ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

I finished Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco in the beginning of September and wrote my review immediately after, but wanted to wait until AFTER the #GetWickedTour ended to post my review. Thank you JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me a copy! We’re so thankful you got to be our first ever tour! 

I’m going to be formatting my post as if I am a part of the blog tour, though technically, I’m not. So if you’re confused, sorry about that! It’s just a fun way for me to include everything and express my love for this book!

If you haven’t been following along, please take a minute to check out the other posts from the tour and give the bloggers and bookstagrammers some love! You can access the schedule here

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ARC Review: A Golden Fury

I received a copy of A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe from NetGalley and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

I found myself unable to put this book down while I was reading it. It’s an intense read that asks a lot of philosophical questions. A lush realistic fantasy that warns the readers – what will you give up for power?

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September 2020 releases to put on your TBR

With only a week left in the month, I thought it would be fun to hype up some of my favorite September releases that I think people should put on their TBR! This is mostly going to be debut or not as well know releases, so no Cassie Clare or any other sequels/spin offs.

Some of these I haven’t read yet, but want to, so I’ll mark which ones I have and have not read. For the unread books, I’ll be putting in the official synopsis!

Let’s get started!

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ARC Review: Hush

I received an eARC of Hush by Dylan Farrow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hadn’t heard a lot about this book when I requested it except that it was a fantasy novel, so I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts going in (besides what the synopsis said). I didn’t know if I would like it, but I’m here to report that I loved it!

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ARC Review: The Silvered Serpents

I saw that The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi was Read Now on NetGalley and without thinking, I downloaded it to my kindle. I hadn’t read The Gilded Wolves, in fact, I had DNFed it originally. But I downloaded it anyways because *cue the theme song* I’m an idiot!

But I ended up loving The Gilded Wolves and, not surprisingly, I loved The Silvered Serpents even more!

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September 2020 Mid-Month Update

This month is full of books I need to read for blog tours and for review before publication. It’s kind of stressful, but I’m also really enjoying the books I’ve read, so it’s not a chore for me. Here’s some of the books I read this month, the books I’m currently reading, and the books I plan to read next!

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Audiobook Review: Haunting the Deep

Today, I am reviewing the audiobook for Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather. This was the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to (at least fully) and it was pretty good! Finding the right speed for me was tough and I’m pretty sure I missed like half the book just zoning out listening, but I really liked the experience! Especially since I can get them through my library through Libby.

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ARC Review: The Hunter and The Mage

I received an eARC of The Hunter and the Mage by Kaitlyn Davis in exchange for an honest review. Kaitlyn sent this to me a couple of months ago and I finally got a chance to read it!

The Hunter and the Mage is the sequel to The Raven and the Dove – so if you haven’t read book 1, be sure to order a copy today! I’ll also link my review here if you want to check that out!

This will be a spoiler free review, but I cannot guarantee that this review will not include spoilers from The Raven and the Dove – so if you haven’t read it yet, you have been warned!

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ARC Review: Legendborn

Today I am reviewing Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and I’m so glad I got to read it early. This book has quickly become one of my all time favorite books and I was so happy to find out it’s going to be a series!

This book is filled with magic, adventure, and some American history and it is AMAZING

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August 2020 Wrap Up

Alright! Another month done, another list of books I read this month!

I did really well reading wise. Not only did I complete all the books on my TBR, but then I read a couple extra as well! I’m really impressed with myself – I didn’t think I was going to be able to read all of these titles in the span of 31 days, but I guess I shouldn’t doubt myself!

Check out all of the books I read in August! I have tagged reviews for most, if not, all of them for you to check out! 

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Review: The Gilded Wolves

I originally DNFed (did not finish) The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi last year. I had started reading in February 2019 and gave up after 100 pages in August 2019. The beginning was so slow for me, I just could not get through it. I tried to push through, but it felt like I was going nowhere with this story, like I was moving backwards. 

Then, November 2019 I got an ARC of The Silvered Serpents from YALLFest and decided I should give this book another try. And I finally finished it!

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ARC Review: Fable

Today I am reviewing Fable by Adrienne Young. This was a Read Now option on NetGalley and I absolutely dove for it! Thank you Wednesday Books for letting me snag a copy of this book for review!

Before I start this review, can we just admire how beautiful this cover is! And Namesake is so cool too for being the other side of her face. I just love it!

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Review: A Touch of Gold

I’ve been in this awful habit of requesting sequels I have the first book for and just haven’t read. It’s such a bad habit that it’s caused me to have more than 20 eARCs I had to read and simply not enough time. Which is why I’m basically bingeing off all the upcoming September and October reads right now. I’m overwhelmed!

I received an eARC of A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan through NetGalley from one of these requests. I owned the ebook of A Touch of Gold, so thankfully it wasn’t too much of a panic to receive book 2, but I was still panicking a little.


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ARC Review: Wicked Fox

I have been holding off reading Wicked Fox by Kat Cho for a while. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book honestly but it sounded so good that I didn’t want to ignore it. When I got approved as a Penguin Teen Influencer, one of the first books I received was an e-ARC of Vicious Spirits, so I knew I had to read this book.

And here we go, adding another book to the “WHY THE HECK DID I WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!?” list. Because I cannot believe that I didn’t read this book sooner!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

So when I moved, I didn’t bring the finished copy of this book with me, I decided to bring the ARC. So yes, technically this is an ARC review – don’t come for me! lol

So off the bat, from page one, I was invested in this story. I don’t know much about the gumiho legends, so reading this book was so much fun for me! I loved learning about the legend and how these gumiho survive in today’s society, especially since people are so crowded together now.

Miyoung’s character is complex and realistic. She’s not overly friendly and good, but she’s not evil – she’s pretty human in that respect. While she’s cold to most people as a way to protect herself, she warms up around Jihoon enough for a friendship to blossom. And they’re friendship is really cute!

I loved Jihoon’s character a lot. Reading from his POVs made me so happy, except when he’s going through some not so fun stuff, because he has such a positively infectious attitude! Every time he’s positive, or nice, or optimistic, I found myself emulating that. It was so refreshing – especially compared to Miyoung’s cold, calculating demeanor. Usually we see the guys as reserved and cold and the girls are peppy and sweet, but this flip was great! It was way more realistic and showed that girls don’t have to be peppy or sweepingly optimistic to be good people.

I think my favorite thing about this book, besides the legends its based off of, are the characters. I found myself connecting with them easily and getting a good feel of their personalities and emotions. It was refreshing. Not to say that the plot isn’t great, because it is! This book was so well thought out I couldn’t stop myself from reading what happens next. In fact, most of the book I read in one sitting because I had to know what was going to happen next.

I’m so glad I have Vicious Spirits already!

This book is really, really good and I think fantasy lovers will adore this book! Especially people who enjoyed The Mortal Instruments. You have the fantasy world mixed with the real world and all the mess that comes with it!

I love it so much, it’s a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review: Steel Tide

Today I am going to be reviewing Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker, the second book in the Seafire trilogy. I received an ARC of this book back in June 2019 from the ALA (American Library Association) Convention and just never got around to reading it. Finally, after getting an eARC of Stormbreak, I knew I had to make time to read this book immediately!


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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The second book in a heart-stopping trilogy that follows the captain of an all-female ship intent on taking down a vicious warlord’s powerful fleet.

Caledonia may have lost her crew, but she’s not done fighting yet. After nearly dying at the hand of a powerful foe, Caledonia is pulled from the sea and nursed back to health by a crew of former Bullets that call themselves Blades. The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and now live a nomadic existence, ready to disappear at a moment’s notice should trouble come their way.

But Caledonia wants to do more than just hide. She wants to find the Mors Navis and her beloved sisters. She wants to continue fighting Aric’s fleet and to take back the Bullet seas. She’ll need to do everything in her power to convince the Blades that fighting is their only option, that there has to be a life better than the one under Aric Athair’s reign, and that finding the women of the Mors Navis is the first step to revolution.


It’s been awhile since I last read Seafire, probably two or so years now, so jumping into this book took me a minute to get reacquainted. But once I got myself situated and familiar with what happened, it was like I never left! This book picks up where Seafire left off as Caledonia is resting and recovering from her near deadly fight with Lir. She is nursed back to health by a group of Blades, ex-Bullets who have escaped Aric’s clutches.

Maybe this was just because I had to figure out what the heck was going on, but the beginning felt a bit slow to me. After Caledonia starts to recover, she’s living life with the Blades and I was just waiting for something to happen. I remembered the first book being filled with action and adventure and I was patiently waiting for it to start back up again.

It did.

Okay, so once the action started it was actually nuts! There was so much fighting, sneaking, danger, and sailing my brain didn’t know what to do. And as we make our way to the end of the book – dread filled me. I knew what was coming.

But I guess I didn’t, cause I was totally wrong and the ending was way better than I could have guessed! I would crack open Stormbreak right now if I didn’t have other books to read right now.

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I really enjoyed the storyline and the challenges that Caledonia has to face. While revenge is always on her mind, she shifts her focus to helping the people around her too. I also appreciate the new cast of characters we get acquainted with – Pine being my favorite.

There was a certain thing that I wasn’t a fan of, but it was kind of minor in the scope of things. Overall, I really like this book, and the series in general, and can’t wait to read the final book in the series! This is a starstarstarstar // 5 stars for me.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Ignite the Sun

I received a copy of Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Once upon a time, there was something called the sun… In a kingdom ruled by an evil witch, the sun is just part of a legend about light-filled days of old. Luckily for everybody in the kingdom, Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the light–or she will lose everything trying.

Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.

Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city–the very center of the darkness–for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.

But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.


This was a surprisingly quick read, even though the book is 352 pages long. Though this book is a quick read, it is not an “easy” or “light” read. This book discusses some serious topics like genocide, parental neglect, and war. But, there are some moments of light in this book between Siria and her newfound family, Yarrow and Linden.

From the beginning, I was interested in the Darkness covering their town. There is no sunlight, only lamps and a heating spell to keep everyone from freezing. I couldn’t imagine living in a world of pure darkness, controlled by an abusive Queen. All the magical creatures locked away or slaughtered to make sure she stays in power. The only thing people had were stories of the time before and even then they were just viewed as stories.

Once we get into the thick of this book, I found that I got some information about the world of the sunchildren and other mythical creatures, but not a complete picture. I wanted to learn more about the culture and the world, but we mostly learn about their powers and how to use them. While helpful, and cool, I felt like I didn’t have the full picture of this world. For one, it sounds like the sunchildren are like genetic mutations – it’s not a group of beings, they can be born to humans or nymphs, and some siblings can be sunchildren while others aren’t. Which, I don’t understand how that happens and it’s not explained much.

In fact, there was a lot of missing information by the end and too many unanswered questions. Besides the obvious, what is a sunchild and how do they appear, I wanted to know more about nymph and elf powers. Mages were kind of explained, but it was basically “they have a magical item that channels their magic. The end” which isn’t super helpful.

Plus, we’re told that sunchildren have all of these great powers, and while we see some, it sounds like it’s not even a drop in the bucket. It was actually really frustrating to read such an interesting plot only to have the world building lack. And the forced romance, while cute, felt off. These characters were friends for years, Siria barely spoke to him for four years, and suddenly she’s in love? I just don’t understand.

While I enjoyed the story a lot, those discrepancies and unanswered questions bugged me and made the story more confusing at times. So while I liked the characters and the overall book, I would give this a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis! The sequel, The Hunter and the Mage releases on September 21st, 2020!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review: The Shadows Between Us

I am so happy I read this book when I did. I was reading some not so great books recently and now my luck has turned around, this one included! I’ve heard such great things about this story and it did not disappoint for me.

Today, I will be reviewing The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Wow okay where to start with this one? I guess let’s start with characters.

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I loved Alessandra as a character. She’s tough, but not cruel. She owns her body and her sexuality, but doesn’t shame other girls for having different opinions (ie. while she may be sexually active, she does not shame other girls for waiting until marriage). She’s pretty funny and she gets stuff done! She’s pretty impressive. Then Kallias. Ugh – King Kallias is too much for me sometimes. Not because he’s ignoring Alessandra or being rude – which he definitely is – but because he’s so tortured and he just needs a hug. But, you can’t touch him, so air hug? Then we have Alessandra’s friends who are all so funny. It’s a perfect set up.

So plot wise, I couldn’t find any faults that I thought needed to be changed or were bad. In fact, I really like how the plot went and the ending is spectacular. I gasped, I was happy, I was sad, shocked, disturbed, and in the end, satisfied. This story had so many ups and downs between Alessandra and Kallias and even between other characters! So much is going on.

I was cheering on Alessandra the whole time, even when her goals changed because she’s a fun character. I liked seeing how cunning and smart she was and the fact that Kallias appreciated that! They’re one of my favorite couples now.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I will be discussing spoilers below. I will mark once the spoiler talk has ended!

SPOILERS START

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Okay so first off I have a question, because I realize this may not have been answered in the book. During Kallias’ assassination attempt at the ball, the little girl tells Alessandra that it was the man who made a toast and the woman in black who told her to come. And that the woman in black was now wearing green tonight. Lady Zervas matched the description but she claims it wasn’t her – do we know who this woman was? Is it confirmed or denied that it was Lady Zervas? And if it wasn’t – who was it?

I don’t know if we ever got that answer and I’m kinda of sad. I wanna know who it was. I was hoping that it was one of Alessandra’s friends, like Hestia or Rhoda who were actually in on the whole thing. But that didn’t end up happening.

I think that’s my only complaint plot wise – we never confirm or deny who this woman is and why she’s important.

One other thing I do want to mention too was I wasn’t a fan of how Kallias reacted to Alessandra’s murder charge. He doesn’t worry that she will try to murder him? He pardons her immediately? I just don’t understand his reasoning besides wanting to keep the engagement and letting it slide?

I was kind of hoping for some dramatic thing where he gets upset and locks her up or throws her out. Or even her Father and her sister get her and take her home. But that didn’t happen and I wish it did. I feel like that would have been pretty intense too.

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SPOILERS END

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love the characters, the story, and certain scenes just made me fall in love with Kallias. I also really wanted to give him a hug, poor thing. All in all, this is a great fantasy standalone that I’ll probably be recommending for a while, so I think it’s obvious this is a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Tricia’s other series, Daughter of the Pirate King!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Stuck at Home Book Tag

I decided to do another tag today because why not? I don’t want to clutter my feed too much with reviews so we’re doing the Stuck at Home Book Tag! I might be a bit late with this one, but whatever. We’re all just trying to have fun.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

No one nominated me for this tag but I will nominate Alexa @ Writing the Universe to do this tag!

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read for Forever

What haven’t I been meaning to read for forever? My TBR is so long I could probably just talk about those and never end. But honestly, I would have to say Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I got preoccupied with other books when it came out and just never got around to reading it. I know once I do though I’m not going to be able to put it back down, so maybe I’ll hold off until the next book in the series is out . . .

An Intimidating Book on Your TBR

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I want to read this book so bad but I don’t know how I’m going to feel once I start. I’ve heard mixed reviews and have been told this is a series you have to reread because the footnotes are really distracting at first. I’m also worried if I don’t like it what will happen. Some people are very possessive over this series and I’m not trying to get virtually assaulted for not liking this book! (just kidding)

Top 3 Priority Books on Your TBR

  1. Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty
  2. Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard
  3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Honestly, 2 is on there because I kept pushing off reading this book and it’s releasing in August, so I really need to read it! And 3 is because I’ve been dying to read this book and kept pushing it off due to other books releasing sooner. I will get to all of these books soon, especially Ignite the Sun because I am not holding off on that book anymore.

Recommend a Short Book

I have a lot of recommendations, but I’ll stick with fantasy, thriller and prose for now.

For fantasy, The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller. It’s just over 300 pages and it’s a standalone, so you get a quick read that is SO GOOD! I feel like this is going to become on of my go to recommendations now.

For thriller, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This book doesn’t even hit 250 pages and it is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There’s not much I can say about this besides – it’s really good, you should definitely read it!

For prose, Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew. It’s a contemporary novel written in prose that I read in one sitting. If you don’t know what prose is, it’s similar to poetry but with more of a storytelling aspect to it. So instead of the whole Roses are Red rhyming scheme, it’s more like Shakespeare. And this book is so good! I really like the set up of the book and how it flows. And, it has a really important story for young women.

Recommend a Long Book

Again, it’s so hard to recommend just one, so I’ll do a fantasy, contemporary, and maybe throw in a thriller!

For fantasy, I have to go with The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s a standalone fantasy novel that is 858 pages long. Some people have said they’re intimated by the book, and I was too at first, but it’s actually not that bad! There’s dragons, war, sapphic romance, and lots of crazy magic in this world.

For contemporary, I would say The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’ve noticed most contemporaries aren’t longer then 400 pages, but THUG is almost 450 pages. It’s the longest contemporary I’ve read at least and it has an important message.

Finally, for thriller, I would recommend The Diviners by Libba Bray. This one is a mixed genre book because its a fantasy thriller, but the main plot point is the murders, so I’m going with this one! This is the first book in a series and has 578 pages filled with magic, mayhem, and murder. It’s so good.

What Do You Plan on Reading Next?

I’m starting Ignite the Sun once I finish the current book I’m reading and then I’ll probably read Kingdom of Copper as well. I also really want to read Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker because I have the Stormbreak sitting on my kindle and I really want to read that before release. So that’s another TBR book I need to read.

If you decide to do this tag, feel free to tag me so I can see your responses!

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Splinters of Scarlet

This was another book that I was supposed to review for Fantastic Flying Book Club as a part of their blog tour before I ended contact with them. Obviously, I’m going to post my review of this book, just not in relation to FFBC.

Today I will be reviewing Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by HMH.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.

For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.

But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.

From the start, this book had my full attention. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t enthralled with what was going on. We have a historical fantasy, set in Denmark, and a mystery all packed into one? I was smitten.

I loved the alternating POV’s in this book. We get to see the story through Marit and Philip’s eyes with Philip going between the past and the present. I thought it added extra mystery to the story instead of just seeing the world through Marit’s eyes. I kind of wish we got to see the world through Eve’s eyes as well, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t add that much to the story.

Plot wise I loved this book. We are shot forward from the very beginning as we follow Eve and Marit from the orphanage to the Vestergaard home and meet all the new people in their lives. As Marit tries to uncover what happened to her father, please Mrs. Vestergaard, and prevent the Firn from killing her, this story gets intense. The last 25% I was absorbed as we find out what exactly is going on.

Another aspect I love about this story was Marit and Eve’s relationship. Sister’s by choice stories just make me so happy and the love these two girls have for each other is endearing. It melted my heart every time they interacted with each other, especially with how Marit treats Eve. As the oldest of three girls, I know the feelings Marit has towards Eve, even if she doesn’t go through moments of rage like any normal sisters might. The love and protectiveness she has towards Eve hits home, even if they are much kinder to each other than me and my sisters are.

There wasn’t much I disliked about the story except I wish we got more background on some of the other people in the house. Liljan and Jakob become friends with Marit quickly, but we don’t really get to learn about them as much as Marit or Eve. I wanted a bit more time to get to know some of these other characters before we’re thrown into action.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this story. I was so sad to finish because I didn’t want it to end. I have to give this a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this story sounds interesting, check out Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: A Wicked Magic

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and Fantastic Flying Book Club. After hearing all the awful things that FFBC was doing, I formally left the tour. I was supposed to post my review for their blog tour, but instead, I will simply be posting my review for the author and the publisher.

Today, I am reviewing A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, a debut YA paranormal novel about two teenage witches who unwillingly band together to fix the magical mess they’ve made. This title releases on July 28th, so be sure to preorder a copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

I really enjoyed this book. It was magical and fun with some very interesting characters. The beginning pulled me in quickly, but I found that the middle was pretty slow. I felt like the beginning and end were well thought and executed, but the middle was lagging in terms of action. It began to feel repetitive as the same issues rose up for Dan and Liss that they had to work through.

Alexa’s story on the other hand got my attention. I wanted to read more about her and what was going on with Lorelai’s investigation. The whole first half of the book was focused on Dan and Liss’ situation with occasional sections on Alexa – but in the second half we get to see her a lot more and that’s when things get interesting.

Focusing on the plot, this book was so good. The actual events that go on and what these girls have to face was insane and super creepy. I wish I had read this book for Halloween with the amount of creepy, eerie things that happen. I also was a bit upset about who Alexa ended up with, because I was kind of rooting for someone else. On the other hand, she ends up with a really sweet girl and seems really happy.

For the characters, we see a lot of growth between the three, especially for Liss in my opinion. Honestly, I didn’t like Liss’ character at all in the beginning, but after finding out more about her home situation and her motivation for things, I just feel sorry for her. The changes she goes through made her into a much healthier person and I loved seeing her growth. Dan also goes through a much needed change and comes out a healthier, hopefully happier, person.

One thing that I think the author was trying to make cannon was Dan’s sexuality. We know Liss is straight (or at least very interested in her boyfriend Johnny) and Alexa is gay, but we never learn about Dan. Not that it’s important, but I can’t help but wonder where the author was going for her. See, in the book, Dan comes across as ace (asexual) or somewhere along the ace spectrum. But it’s never confirmed, denied, or really discussed. Part of me wants an answer, but it doesn’t really affect the story much whether or not she is. I’m just curious, I guess.

Overall, this book was written beautifully and it dives into things like self harm, depression, abusive home life, and other important conversations like that. These issues are discussed and handled carefully and I appreciate the work the author put in to represent these topics well. Though the middle was really slow for my taste, I think this book was still awesome. I loved learning about how magic worked in this world and pairing it with real teenage problems.

I think a lot of people will not only enjoy this book, but learn that things aren’t always what they seem. So, I’m giving this a starstarstarstar // 5 stars!

 

 

ARC Review: Wicked As You Wish

I received an exclusive advance copy of Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco from Fairyloot and I loved it! My review is not in affiliation with Fairyloot and I paid for the box the book came in.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.

A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

I was worried, going into this book, that I wasn’t going to like it because a friend of mine didn’t like it and DNFed it really early. But once I started reading it I was immediately sucked in! There is a lot of American history and politics at the start (because this world is set in an alternate universe from ours), but it quickly moves along quickly.

The plot is immaculate. I mean such good plotting and storytelling goes on in this book. Even with all the crazy politics that have to be followed, and there are some crazy politics in this world, it’s so captivating. Especially once we meet the Snow Queen’s minions.

With a diverse cast of characters we’re off to save the world and the kingdom of Avalon from the evil Snow Queen. One thing I really like about this world is that it’s not only a magical version of ours, but incorporates actual fairytales into the history. Snow White, Sleeping Beaty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Robin Hood, King Arthur, any and all fairytales you can think of are real people in this world, just not all at the same time.

Our rag tag team is so much fun too and each personality adds another layer to our group’s overall personality, and makes the team that much more interesting. I love a lot of the jokes between these new friends and I kinda miss them. Each has their own weapon and their own skill to help Prince Alex, or just Alex, as well as their own distinct trait/thing that they add and feed off of each other.

Because this is a political fantasy, if you don’t want to read about American politics then I would avoid this title. But, I would recommend looking past the few pages of political history for this epic fantasy if it really bothers you. I personally loved the history and the discussion of America’s current political climate and thought it helped me connect with the story and the characters better.

Overall, this book is really good! I can’t wait to read the next one, especially after that ending! This was a solid starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir or Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Warmaidens

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon is the sequel to Gravemaidens and releases on October 20th, 2020. If you have not read Gravemaidens yet, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here. This review will be spoiler free, but I cannot guarantee it will not spoil content from Gravemaidens

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Warmaidens is the dark, action-packed conclusion to the heartwrenching Gravemaidens fantasy duology. Kammani and the maidens are now going to war against the ruler who tried to entomb them.

Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

After reading Gravemaidens, I wasn’t sure how there was going to be a sequel. After reading it, I now realize there was a lot more that needed to get done after the maidens fled the tomb. 

I really enjoyed Gravemaidens and was excited to hop back into this story. Warmaidens takes place nine months after they escaped the tomb and fled Alu to Manzazu. In those nine months we see the changes these characters have gone through, especially in Kammani’s sister, Nanea. Nanea went from a wishful thinking child to a more mature women very quickly. Escaping death might do that to you. 

I found myself not liking Kammani in this book in comparison to Gravemaidens. I’m not sure what about her rubbed me the wrong way, but I was really frustrated reading through some of her thought processes. It was always brought back to being a healer and wanting to not do any harm. I felt like that was her only personality trait and it was so repetitive. Any time something happened that she was involved in, it was always brought back to this thought point. I wanted more out of her personality than that and I thought we lost some of her from Gravemaidens.

I can say though that I appreciate her growth through this book a lot. Her ability to change her viewpoint allows her to continue to develop her relationship with Dagan and Nanea in a more loving and fulfilling way. It was so sweet. 

Another thing I didn’t really care much for are the fighting scenes. Again, not sure what about them rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn’t a fan. Except for the final fight scene – that was intense! I also didn’t like the pacing. It was a quick book, but it felt like it dragged at some points. It ended up being the same sequence of events. Plan, attack, fail, retreat – over and over again and it got repetitive. Maybe that was the point as Kammani is stuck in this loop and tries to find her way out and save herself and her friends? But it was rough reading. 

Plus, with all the jumbledness of their failed attacks and other people’s interference, the book felt jumbled as well. I liked the character growth, I liked the ending, and I liked certain scenes, but the book has some issues. 

Warning: there are remarks of rape and an attempted rape. There is also a comment of someone being “broken” after losing an arm. This definitely was hard to read through and didn’t feel right, so I did want to make note of that. Other possibly concerning things discussed are child brides and the common mention of the lack of rights for women. I understand why this was included in the book and it is discussed, but this might be upsetting so I wanted to include it. 

Overall, it was an interesting book. I wanted to reach inside the story and nicely smack some of the characters but unfortunately, I can’t. But, it was a quick read that nicely wrapped up the series for me, even if there was a lot going on. So I think I’m gonna give this a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review + Blog Tour: Mayhem

I am so excited to be a part of the Mayhem blog tour through Wednesday Books! I was lucky enough to win a copy of Mayhem by Estelle Laure through the Wednesday Books giveaway, Nostalgia Hour, a couple months ago and when I saw the opportunity to jump on this blog tour, I had to take it!

Book Information:

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Here is the synopsis through Goodreads:

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Review:

When I read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. Feminist mash up? Inspired by The Craft? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book, until I start reading it. This was a really intense book that I honestly didn’t expect and I have a lot of thoughts on it. 

One thing I wish I knew going into this book was that the beginning (and some of the tones in general) are pretty heavy. In the final draft there will be a note from the author discussing some of the more serious topics in this novel, but I didn’t get a letter or a warning for the ARC. There is a lot of heaviness to this book, including rape, suicide, assault, murder, and drug abuse. I didn’t realize how intense this book was until I started reading, but Laure does a great job in discussing these issues and not just using them as a shock factor or background. While I would have liked to know those topics would be discussed, I think the author did a good job in discussing them.

I will include Laure’s note, which will be printed in final copies, below in the Author Information section.

The beginning was a bit “slow” in a way as we’re introduced to Mayhem and Roxy, as well as their past. We learn about why Roxy left Santa Maria and why they’re returning home after all these years. I like how Laure mixes in the past with the present to give one cohesive story. Though, I found that the plot of the book didn’t start until more than halfway through.

I wanted more of The Craft, feeling wise, and I didn’t get it. The majority of the book felt like a contemporary novel as Mayhem deals with her and her mother’s past once they return to Santa Maria. The fear of Mayhem’s step-father coming after them, relearning how to feel safe, dealing with her mother’s addiction – it’s a lot for a teen. And honestly, if that was the whole book, I would have been satisfied. The focus on Mayhem and her mother’s relationship, and working through their trauma, would have been a beautiful book.

But once the magic is added in, about 50% through, it changes the feel of the story. I liked the magic, though I didn’t understand it fully. My only complaint is that since the magic and this new storyline comes in late, I wish we had more time with it.

The main climatic event is fast and it left me unsatisfied. I wanted more to solving the mystery, more to the magic, and more in general.

Overall, I like the story and I loved watching Mayhem and Roxy reconnect. I thought the murder mystery was a cool aspect, though it wasn’t really touched on much. And the magic had so much potential, but it just felt underdeveloped unfortunately. Though I do love Laure’s writing and the Mayhem’s overall journey.

In the end, I would give this book a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

Author Information:

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Author Bio:

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Author Note:

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

Related Links:

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Pre-Order the book here!

 

Review: Crave

I have wanted to read Crave by Tracy Wolff since way before it came out. Alexa (Writing the Universe) won an ARC box for this book and absolutely loved this book! She talked so highly about it I wanted to read it ASAP.

Well, you know, life happens! I didn’t get a chance to read it when it came out, but finally, FINALLY, I read this book and OMG I LOVED IT.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

I will admit, I was a die hard Twilight fan back in middle school. It was the book that kicked off my obsession with vampires. After Twilight I read Vampire Academy, Cirque du Freak series, Marked series, Vampire Kisses series, Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, Night World series, Vampire Diaries series – literally anything vampire related, I read it.

So when I picked up this book my inner middle schooler was SCREAMING. I mean I was thrown back in time and feeling all the same feelings as a kid. Especially the way Grace describes Jaxon and her surroundings. It’s very reminiscent of the Twihard era. Then we have Jaxon Vega. Our main love interest who’s mysterious, sassy, and all together swoony who can’t help himself when he’s around Grace. UGH, the teenage hormones in this book were WILD.

I loved the addition of other magical creatures though. This world doesn’t just have vampires – we have dragons, witches, and werewolves together bringing us a magical story that I could not put down. And those are just the creatures we know about. I can only imagine there might be more magic just around the corner and honestly, I need to read Crush like NOW.

Wolff does make fun of the vampire tropes, like instant love and insatiable attraction, and it’s hilarious. I loved the humor throughout this book and I think that’s what made it so much fun to read. I wanted more with every page and those chapter titles: gold.

The beginning is a bit slow and the revelation Grace has comes in pretty far into the book. While I like how it was revealed, part of me wanted it sooner so we could jump into all the magic!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to rate this book, but after the ending, it’s a definite starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars from me! I can’t wait to get sucked into Crush when it releases on September 29th, 2020!!!

Plus, check out this gorgeous cover!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out the books I read/recommend up above! They’ll satiate all your vampire needs!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

June 2020 Wrap Up

Going into this month, I honestly didn’t expect to get through any books. With moving, and work, and other stuff going on I expected to maybe read one or two books, but I went way beyond that.

I loved a lot of the books I read this month and I’m really excited for what I’m reading next month too! I ended up reading 2 of the books I planned to read in July (oops) so I guess I’m on track.

Here’s everything I’ve read in the month of June.

Books I read:

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

Genre: YA Fiction

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Genre: YA Fiction/Thriller/Horror

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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Greythorne by Crystal Smith

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

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Heir of Ashes by Jina S. Bazzar

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Rating: N/A

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Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

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They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Search by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Rift by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: Smoke and Shadow by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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It was so nice to be able to FINALLY read the Avatar comics. I love Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, so to be able to read the comics at last, it makes me so happy. Only two more books before they’re done, but my heart is full. After my rewatch of Korra, I’ll probably end up reading those comics too!

What are some books you read this month? Any books you’re excited to read in July?

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Deck of Omens

I loved The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. I remember how hyped everyone was for this book. The ARC trading world was going nuts trying to get a copy, blogs were posting 5 star reviews, and generally everyone was really excited for this book! But once The Deck of Omens was announced, I didn’t see that kind of energy and it was really sad. I was surprised people weren’t cutting off limbs to read this book early and I was seeing no press or reviews floating around.

Y’all are missing out! This was such an amazing sequel and I’m mad no one is talking about it more! People, get your bullhorns out and start shouting about this series because it’s so good!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.

But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…

We leave off The Devouring Gray with a team of kids who all need a hug. The Beast is subdued and the Gray is quiet, but there are still a LOT of things that need to be discussed. Soon, we find ourselves in some trouble as The Gray is overcome with corruption which is leaking out and attacking the occupants of Four Paths.

While The Devouring Gray was more plot driven, this book is WAY more character driven and I LOVED IT. Often times I wish for more character development in stories either because so much is going on in the plot that we aren’t shown their changes or the changes never occur – but this book is the opposite. So much character development happened in The Devouring Gray and is now seeping into The Deck of Omens. We see characters self reflect, have ground breaking realizations and acceptance, and the relationships *chef’s kiss* perfection.

Chefs Kiss GIF by Nick Jonas - Find & Share on GIPHY

Not to say that the plot isn’t a big factor or good, because it is. I mean, it’s Four Paths guys, everything is pretty messed up there. The beginning was a reintroduction to the town and to our characters, then we are quickly moved along to our problem and our potential solution. With the introduction of new characters, like Justin and May’s father and Issac’s brother Gabriel, we get some additional background on our characters, but an increased tension through the group.

It was the perfect storm.

All in all, I love this series and I think it’s so spooky and disturbing that you can’t help but read more to find out what terrifying thing happens next. This gets a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars for me. I can’t wait to read more from Christine, hopefully I can get my hands on another one of her books soon!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, or Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

 

Unboxing: Fairyloot May 2020

Since Fairyloot had delayed shipping on their boxes for the past few months, I wanted to wait a couple weeks from when I received mine to do an unboxing. But now that it’s here, I’m so excited to show off the May 2020 Fairyloot box!

***I am not affiliated with Fairyloot and purchased this box for my own personal use. The opinions expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone.

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Company: Fairyloot

Origin: United Kingdom

Price: $33.90 (USD) + $7.99 (US Shipping)

Month: May, 2020

Theme: Desert Dreams

 

This months theme was Desert Dreams and as described from their Instagram post:

“This month, we’re getting swept away in lands filled with fairy tales, magic and djinn! Put the kettle on and brew yourself a sweet mint tea to prepare for a dreamy adventure, from palaces to sand dunes to magic oasis’! We’ve never done a theme quite like this in the past, and we are so excited for the goodies and the book in this box.”

I was so excited to receive this box because I knew exactly what the book was!

Without further ado, the Desert Dreams box from Fairyloot!

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For this months box we received

  • A copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust with an exclusive cover, sprayed edges, artwork on the reverse of the dust jacked, and it’s signed!
  • A bookish tin inspired by We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (my boyfriend already stole it for his tea)
  • A bookish wooden spoon
  • A tea towel inspired by City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  • Desert bath salts by Little Heart Gifts
  • Tribal desert candle inspired by An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Sunglass pouch inspired by The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury and designed by @kitstercronk
  • And our two tarot cards, the Three and Four of Cups inspired by Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and designed by @gabriella. bujdoso

Spoiler Card below:

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My thoughts:

Honestly, I really like this box! My boyfriend and I have already used some of these items, like the tin and the bath salts, for ourselves. I’m not sure what I would use the tea towel for, other than decoration, so that’s kind of a wasted item for me – BUT, I am super happy about the sunglass pouch!

I think the wooden spoon is cute, but it’s so cute that I don’t even want to use it. So it’s sitting in my kitchen as a decoration. The candle smells amazing, but a bit strong, so that might just serve as a decoration too. They’re all just so cute and perfect! I don’t want to even use them lol

As for the book, I knew what it was going to be since I had already read it, but I still love the edition regardless! I think the pink looks so cute and the artwork under the dust jacket is AMAZING. Plus, sprayed edges are just so gorgeous. I’m geeking out! Feel free to check out my spoiler free review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust if you haven’t had a chance yet.

July’s theme is Resilient Royals!

From the Fairyloot website:

“Prepare your crown, and don’t forget to sharpen your sword − you might need it! This month is all about royals that always hold their ground and are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their kingdom and the ones that they love.

You can expect items inspired by Crescent CityThe Lunar ChroniclesAsh PrincessThe Queen’s RisingWoven in Moonlight and The Bear and the Nightingale. We are thrilled to announce that this box will include a hand poured candle by @inthewickoftime, a beautiful cushion cover plus many other goodies that we have never featured in a previous box!

Our featured book of the month is an epic story of a kingdom ravaged by war, and a princess that may be the key to saving it. Something about this book gave us classic fantasy vibes − you can expect magic, resilient royals and romance! This FairyLoot edition will have an EXCLUSIVE COVER, SPRAYED EDGES and will be SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.”

I unfortunately have to skip this box because, well, money, but I know EXACTLY what the book is and I’m so excited! Part of me is really upset I have to miss out on this box, but I also can’t afford to drop $150+ on book boxes this month, much less the $100 I budgeted for July.

Regardless, I’m still excited to see everyone’s beautiful pictures and hope everyone enjoys their box!

Spots for subscribers is currently SOLD OUT, but feel free to join their US waitlist here! They will contact you once a space has opened for you to subscriber!

Useful links:

Fairyloot UK

Fairyloot US

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Fairyloot Club Facebook

Fairyloot B/S/T Group

 

 

 

 

Villains I love and love to hate

The best stories have a good plot, diverse characters, and a villain you can’t help but love. The more interesting a villain, the more I enjoy a book, and sometimes it’s hard to get that perfect balance of evil and likable. So, here’s a list of some of my favorite villains!

A Villain I LOVE

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The Darkling is such a charming, charismatic person you can’t help but love him. Every interaction Alina had with him had me anxiously waiting to see what happened next. He believed in his mission, he loved Alina, and he wanted to change the world. Those conditions and attributes combined created a villain I loved. I didn’t want to hate him, and I sort of understood his intentions, but we all knew they were skewed.

 

A Villain I love to HATE

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Maeve as a villain is someone I love to hate. She’s evil, vindictive, and had a lot of motivation for her actions. I still hated her though. By the end, I could see how she wasn’t the true villain of the story, but her actions in the series allowed for our true villain to appear. Man I hated that guy lol

 

 

A Villain I hate to LOVE

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Corien, who we get to learn more about in Kingsbane, is such an evil guy. And when I mean evil, I mean evil. But also such a good antagonist. I mean everything he does makes me want to smack him on the head and then we get to the kissy kissy scenes and I’m swooning. Damn him!

 

 

A (kinda) Villain I LOVE

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The premise of this book is that there are no heroes or villains. We just have anti-heroes really and that means I can love all my boys the same! Victor, our protagonist (I guess you could call him) doesn’t want to be a hero – he wants revenge. And Eli? Well, he wants to be seen as a hero, but I guess murder isn’t a good way of going about that as he eradicates everyone with a super ability. This pair of equally grey characters is such a fun read.

 

And a Villain I just HATE

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OOOOHHH LET ME TELL YOU. I hate Marcus, I hate the Commandant, and I HATE the Nightbringer. Oh my gosh I hate these characters with a passion. And it’s not even because they’re bad characters/villains, it’s because they’re so EVIL that I just want them out of the way so my cinnamon roll Elias and my baby Laia can FINALLY BE HAPPY. GOSH I GET SO UPSET.

 

I find myself loving books with morally grey villains, or at least charming villains, because they make things so much more interesting. Like how can I even be mad when your messed up plan actually makes sense? How can I hate you when you’re so lovable and charming?! It can be so frustrating.

What are some villains you love and love to hate? Let me know in the comments!

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Greythorne

I received a copy of Greythorne by Crystal Smith from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had a physical ARC of Greythorne that I received at YallFEST 2019. I got it during a mystery ARC drop where there were only 25 copies and they handed out this title. I had not read Bloodleaf but I heard great things about the first book, so I was excited! I requested a copy through NetGalley because digital takes up way less space, but I find myself loving the series too much to part with my physical copies. Regardless, here are my thoughts.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Princess Aurelia’s life is turned upside down when the kingdom she thought she saved turns to ruin, a loved one is tragically killed in a shipwreck, and her home country refuses to respect her brother’s legitimate claim to the throne. With no place left to call her own, Aurelia returns to Greythorne Manor—her best friend’s family mansion—only to get swept up in a coup d’état on the night of her brother’s coronation.

With everyone turned against her and enemies closing in on all sides, Aurelia has nothing left to lose in a mad fight to protect the only people she has left—her family. But in her darkest moments when all seems grim, will Aurelia find a spark of hope from a love she thought long lost?

After finishing Bloodleaf I wasn’t sure where the story was heading. The plot was finished right? WRONG. Clearly, there is much more to the story. Jumping into Greythorne I found myself really confused. We start a few months after the end of Bloodleaf and Zan is dead!? I was so confused and thought that the ending of Bloodleaf had changed between the ARC and the finished copy – but I just had to be patient.

I am not patient. I really wanted to find out what was going on and when I did, I was not happy. Crystal – why do you have to mess with us like this!?

The trend of middle book syndrome concerned me. I thought Greythorne was not going to be as good as Bloodleaf because we’re in the middle of a story right? WRONG AGAIN. It was so much better! My only fear now is what’s going to happen in Ebonwilde! But, I’ll have to wait another 18 or so months to find out! (cue the endless sobbing)

So I loved this book and the series overall – and we’re adding it to the list of “books I regret not reading sooner”. I should make a Goodreads shelf for them one day!

I thought the plot was so good, all the puzzle pieces were coming together in a way that the only word I can think of is, relieving. Like you see everything building up and then finally, you understand what is happening and it’s almost a relief. Okay maybe relief isn’t the best word, but it’s the only one I can think of.

And I’m not going to get into character development because it was superb. Not just from book 1 to 2, but through book 2 our characters change and grow and I loved it.

It was also nice to get to spend time with characters from book 1 we didn’t get to see much. Overall, I really like this book and this series. It’s new and different and fun and yeah – I’m rambling. Let’s wrap this up. starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars from me.

Greythorne releases on September 1st, so be sure to preorder your copy today!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

 

ARC Review: Bloodleaf

I had an ARC of Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith sitting in my house since November/December 2018. Two of my friends went to YallFEST 2018 and while I wanted to go, I couldn’t. They asked if there was anything they could pick up and I said, yes – Bloodleaf! They were so sweet and managed to grab me a couple other titles as well as Bloodleaf – but I never read it. Until now.

Flash forward to YallFEST 2019 and I find myself in line for a “mystery” ARC drop that only had 25 copies. Some speculated what it might be, but we were all shocked when they handed us Greythorne. Then, I also managed to receive an eARC through NetGalley and finally, I realized I needed to read this book.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Aurelia is a princess, but they call her a witch.

Surrounded by spirits and burdened with forbidden magic, she lives in constant fear of discovery by the witch-hunting Tribunal and their bloodthirsty mobs. When a devastating assassination attempt reveals her magical abilities, Aurelia is forced to flee her country with nothing but her life.

Alone and adrift in an enemy kingdom, Aurelia plans her revenge against the Tribunal, desperate to bring down the dark organization that has wrought terror upon her people for hundreds of years. But there’s something deeply amiss in her new home, too, and soon she finds herself swept into a deadly new mystery with a secretive prince, the ghost of an ancient queen, and a poison vine called Bloodleaf.

Aurelia is entangled in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war, and if she can’t break free before the Tribunal makes its last move, she may lose far more than her crown.

I’m going to have to make a category or a list of all the books I say, “I wish I read this sooner” because there are a lot now, and this is one of them.

Why did no one tell me this book was so good? Why did no one mention how amazing this book was and let me go a year and a half without reading it!? I was gonna trade away my copy because I thought I wasn’t going to read/like it. Who let this happen!?

Okay, so it’s my fault for not listening to my friends when they told me how amazing this book is. And I regret not listening to them. This was such a fun read, also really intense, but I really enjoyed myself! I liked a lot of things about this book including the magic system, the history, and our group of characters.

Sure, Aurelia/Emilie does give off the “I’m doing this for the greater good, it’s best no one knows” ideology even though I want to smack her for it. But her character was also fun to read about as she explored her magic and the actions of her predecessors that brought herself and everyone around her into this situation.

And what a sticky situation we have here folks.

The characters can not catch a break, at all. There were several moments I gasped, shed a tear, or even full on cried. It’s like I forget how powerful YA books can be when they play with your emotions.

Especially that ending. Was not emotionally prepped for everything that happened and everything I KNOW is gonna have to happen for two more books to appear. I’m worried but also excited.

I really liked this book and I’m really excited to read my copy of Greythorne now, so this is going to be added to my starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars list.

Let me know if you’ve read Bloodleaf and whether or not you’re ready for Greythorne because I am NOT.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson or Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Gravemaidens

I finally read Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon and I am so excited to read the next book, Warmaidens!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I managed to grab an ARC of Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon during ALA 2019. It was one of those books that I put off reading because another, newer title was grabbing my attention. I managed to get an eARC of Warmaidens, so I thought now was probably the best time to start reading!

I thought this was an interesting book. Not sure how this is a fantasy as it doesn’t delve past basic herbology, but I’m hoping the fantasy elements come into play in the next book. I enjoyed Kammani’s passion for healing and her desire to save her sister. I felt so bad for her family with everything that they went through – anyone would be bitter after all of that.

I liked the plot, but I wanted more fantasy. This book didn’t feel like a fantasy novel to me, though I still like it, I just don’t understand where the fantasy element comes into play?

Besides that, it was a fun ride. The last 150 pages had my head spinning. I didn’t want to put the book down and miss anything that was going to happen next.

This was a really interesting book and I liked Kammani’s story a lot. This was a starstarstarstar // 5 stars. I’m really excited to see where this story is heading in book two, and thanks to NetGalley, I will get to read the sequel shortly!

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Theft of Sunlight Cover Reveal!

I am so excited for Intisar Khanani’s newest book, The Theft of Sunlight! I loved her novel Thorn, and The Theft of Sunlight is the first in a companion duology for the Dauntless Path’s world! EEEP!!

Cover Reveal

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away if I can make a difference.

Children have been disappearing from Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her best friend’s sister disappears, Rae knows she can’t stay silent any longer. She finds the chance to make a difference in an invitation to the palace.

But Rae struggles to fit in with the lords and ladies of the court. Instead, she finds unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges thief named Bren who always seems to have her best interests at heart. Soon even Bren can’t help her, and Rae must risk her life and well-being to face an evil that lurks in the shadows of the darkest hearts.

Without further ado . . .  here is the cover for The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani!

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Isn’t this cover gorgeous!? This cover was designed by Jenny Zemanek and I absolutely love it! I’m so excited for the next book in the Dauntless Path’s world!

This book releases on March 23rd, 2021 so be sure to mark your calendars and preorder a copy today!

Intisar is also doing an amazing giveaway to celebrate her new book which you can find on her website. If you haven’t read Thorn yet, here is a link to the Goodreads page, as well as where you can order Thorn today!

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Author Information

Intisar Khanani Author Photo 2018 CM closeup Low Res

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar’s current projects include the re-release of her debut, Thorn, from HarperTeen (2020) and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

To find out about new releases, giveaways, and so forth, subscribe to Intisar’s monthly author newsletter.

Here are some links to Intisar’s personal pages!

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

 

ARC Review + Blog Tour: The Boundless

I am so excited for this post! This is the first blog tour that I am participating in and it’s for a book that I really loved, YAY! I received an eARC of The Boundless by Anna Bright in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss/Fantastic Flying Book Club.

Be sure to check out the other amazing reviews/posts from this tour!

Boundless

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

This breathtaking sequel to The Beholder will take you on a journey into a darkly sparkling fairy tale, perfect for fans of The Selection and Caraval.

When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined she’d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholder’s true mission was a secret Selah’s crew didn’t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsval’d. A place Selah hoped she’d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholder’s quest to its end.

Let me just add, The Beholder killed me. If you haven’t read the first book, feel free to check out my spoiler free review of The Beholder! It’s like The Bachelor – cruise ship edition.

To start, where we leave off in book 1 is where we start for book 2. And it broke my heart. I want Selah and Torden to be together and I was not happy that they were separated. It made me so upset! This book is less of the romance, happy times kind of book and it dives into a much darker tone.

I thought this shift was brilliant. As Selah gets closer towards the Imperiya, the stakes are raised. Not only do we not want to go there, but if she makes it that far, there is a serious chance of certain death. Since Selah has found her prince, there was no reason to continue with the romance hunt, so we dive into more political aspects.

I think I like The Boundless more than The Beholder for that reason.

Selah undergoes HUGE changes in this story and anyone who complained she was “whiny” or “weak” will be proven wrong in this book. She gets a strengthened back bone and learns to fight for herself, and the people she cares about. It’s such a needed and appreciated growth that it makes me like her character a lot more.

This book is dark, terrifying, and heart racing. I didn’t want to go past the beginning because I knew we were going to enter a much more serious section of the book – but it had to be done.

Now, the ending – LOVED IT. I thought this was a great wrap up and while I wish we could have had a book 3, I think Anna does an amazing job ending this story and giving us not only a tale we can enjoy, but one we can learn from.

Since I like this book more than The Beholder, I think it deserves a better rating. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the story, though I didn’t want it to end. I have to give The Boundless starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars.

Thanks again, Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me participate in your blog tour of The Boundless by Anna Bright! This book releases on Tuesday, June 9th, so if you are interested in reading the sequel to The Beholder, be sure to preorder a copy through the links below!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Book Depository

Kobo

Google Books

Author Information

anna bright

Anna Bright is an indie bookseller by day and an author by night who still gets in trouble for reading when she’s supposed to be doing other things. When not hiding out among books, she loves concerts, roller coasters, and adventures at home and abroad. Anna lives with her husband and cat in a charming cobblestoned neighborhood in Washington, DC, but you can find her online at http://www.annabrightbooks.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @brightlyanna.

AUTHOR LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17310926.

Anna Bright Website: https://www.annabrightbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brightlyanna

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightlyanna/?hl=en

Tumblr: https://merryandbr1ght.tumblr.com/

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Selection by Keira Cass.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Raybearer

This was another book I received from YallFEST 2019 and buddy read with my friend Grace. We’ve been buddy reading a lot lately!

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko releases on August 18th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder a copy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

The beginning was like a fairytale. I think that’s what got me really interested in this story. We see Tarisai’s introduction to life and her childhood the same way a story teller would weave the images for you, speaking so rhythmically and songlike, you’re entranced. As we move into the story line, I found myself liking the story even more. I wasn’t sure what path this was going to go on, but the surprises it has in store will definitely shock you.

I really liked this book and thought this was well written except for the ending. The ending kinda confused me. On Goodreads, it says this is a standalone. But the author, and other people who have asked the author, say that there is a sequel. We end like there is supposed to be a sequel – and I hope there is one! – but if it’s supposed to be a standalone, then I think the ending needs to be wrapped up better. We have so many loose ends not tied up that need to be in order for this story to properly finish. I want there to be a sequel, but since I don’t see one announced, I have to look at it as a standalone.

So, the ending was kinda confusing and a bit disappointing because of that. We leave off in such a way that there is a call to action when we should be getting closure. And it made me want more to the ending.

Besides the ending, I thought the plot was concise and well written, the characters are definitely interesting people, the challenges our MC go through are not easy – a perfect set up for a good book. Tarisai goes through some pretty serious stuff throughout this book and by the end, I feel really bad for her. There were moments that I wanted to give her a hug because she could really use it.

Raybearer has faeries, fantastic journeys, lifelong friendships, and a found family mixed with African folklore to make an epic fantasy debut.

This was such a great book and I have to give it starstarstarstar // 5 stars. Please be sure to preorder a copy for yourself through any major retailer – Amazon, B&N, or any other place you buys books.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi or A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Unravel the Dusk

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim is the sequel to Spin the Dawn, which releases on July 7th, 2020. I managed to get an ARC of this book and I was so excited! I read Spin the Dawn last year and ADORED IT. I have never read a story like this before and it was one of my first reviews on this blog. It’s crazy to think that a whole year has gone by. If you have not read Spin the Dawn, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here. This review is spoiler free, but may spoil events in the first book.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

We pick up right where we left off in Spin the Dawn and are immediately thrown back into Maia and Edan’s mess. And what a mess there is.

Honestly, I adore this series. I’m so sad that it’s only a duology and not a trilogy (I swear I thought it was a trilogy) but I will take what I can get in this series! I love the world, the storyline, the characters. Everything about this book is fun and yet also awful – I hate seeing characters turn into literal monsters.

I didn’t find myself disliking anything in the book overall. I think the only comment I would have though is that I wanted more EDAN!! He was so present in Spin the Dawn and his interactions with Maia made me so happy. I wanted to see more of him in Unravel the Dusk. I also wanted to see a different kind of ending. I won’t go into details, and I thought the ending was beautiful, but it felt … easy? I guess that’s the word I’m gonna go with. I just wanted to see a different kind of ending and I’m curious what kind of outcome a different ending would bring. Besides that, I thought this was a great wrap up of the series.

We see Maia’s internal struggle, external struggle, her actions are presenting clear consequences and obstacles for her to overcome, and we get to see different sides to familiar characters. What more can you ask for in a story? Oh yeah – awesome dialogue/character interactions – which this book definitely has!

If I hadn’t been moving these past few days, I would have finished the book ages ago, but I’m glad I got to finish the book in my new apartment. First book finished in my new home! (woo!)

There were multiple points in the book that I was tearing up or about to cry – they were so beautiful. And some parts really painful. As Maia undergoes these changes in herself she fights a literal demon inside of her, but I think anyone can relate to fighting against the voice in their head. Whether the author intended it or not, it had great symbolism to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and seeing Maia struggle to feel like herself and keep her head above water was beautifully written.

So, I love this series! And I really liked this book. There were certain things that I thought could be changed or a bit “easy”, but I won’t go into anymore details than that! This was a great ending to the series and I think everyone should read this beautifully written story. starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars from me.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Crow Rider

I recently started using Edelweiss after hearing how some people have become active and successful on the site. So far, I have been approved for the one book, The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson. I loved The Storm Crow and I was so excited to read the sequel!

This e-ARC of The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson was given to me in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler free, but may discuss events that occurred in The Storm Crow. If you have not read book 1, feel free to visit my review on The Storm Crow and be sure to order it to read today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.

I have to say it, I thought the first book was better. Hear me out! The Crow Rider starts off with us traveling to rally the other kingdoms and save their home! But then, things start to slow down. We’re hit with immediate action and fighting then there’s a lull. And it felt like a lull for most of the book.

Now, though there was a lot of talking, the banter was awesome. Thia makes new friends, we get some sassy Prince in the mix, and everyone has moments of genuine happiness. It was a good mixture of politics, relaxation, and sprinkles of fighting to the death. 

But let’s talk about one thing that I thought could have been done a little smoother and cleaner, the relationships. We get lots of back and forth on the relationships – who is interested in who, people ending things – and what not. I felt like a certain relationship that came across strongly, ending suddenly. I’m not mad it ended, I’m mad it went from intense to dead within seconds.

I wanted it to end a little more subtly – especially since there was so much time at the beginning to show the relationship fizzling!

But besides that, I loved this book. I mean yeah, there were some slow moments when I didn’t feel like that in the first book, but that’s it! Maybe that’s because we get a lot more intense fighting and action in this book compared to the first, so the slower moments feel slower. I’m not sure. And ok, I wished the relationships were explored a bit more, they felt a little rushed – but honestly, those were minor things in comparison to the intensity of this book. The continuation of the plot was seamless, characters didn’t feel different or unfamiliar, just changed. We get to see how other nations in this world think and work. And, I mean, the writing! It’s so good!

But lets talk about what I loved – because I did love this book. 1) We get to see more of Thia’s background in terms of memories, relationships to other nations, so on and so forth. 2) As I said before, we get to know more about the other nations in this world, which was exciting. 3) We explore the effects of war in terms of depression and PTSD which I think doesn’t get talked about enough.

I loved the new people Thia became friends with, they added a new perspective to the story. Also, Res is grown! And he is a sassy character and I love it. And through it all, I found myself excited and genuinely interested in what was going on and what was going to happen next. It’s a great ending to this duology and I think people are going to love this book.

So, though there were some moments I wish had been changed/improved on, this is still one of my favorite duologies. I am definitely giving this a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

If you haven’t preordered your copy of The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson, here are some links to popular sites you can get this book from! This book will release on July 7th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder your copy asap!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

One More Page Books

Amazon AU

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Kinder Poison

I got an ARC of The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae a couple of weeks ago and, after reading a sneak peak, I had to pick this up asap. The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae releases on June 16th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder a copy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

I read the first two chapters on Bookish First, a site that gives you a preview of a book that you can read and rate and possibly win! I’ve never won anything from them before, but I had read the excerpt on there and really wanted to read this book. It seemed like such an interesting fantasy novel and I wasn’t wrong.

I adored this book. It was an easy fantasy to get into and from start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. I love the aspect of different magic’s having different societal implications – such as a Whisperer (someone who can speak to animals) being seen as a lower member of society and therefore not eligible for royalty, or even schooling. While I don’t think that system is right, it sets up our character for her first mistake – making her way to the banquet where they choose the Firsts for a race through the desert.

Then of course, we have the Princes’ and their personalities and rivalry. The toxic sibling dynamic throws poor Zahru into the worst possible situation: becoming a human sacrifice. I loved the plot, the characters, and the humanity behind the story. Kindness is important and it matters – we can all appreciate Zahru for reminding us of that.

It made me laugh every time poor Zahru was thrown around from one person to another. Or I guess I should say stolen from one person to the next. But I got so frustrated every time Zahru would make a valid point about not sacrificing her, since she’s not supposed to be sacrificed, and everyone would go “eh”! Like, people! Don’t kill innocent people!! This story was a rollercoaster for sure.

This fantastical story is one that I not only wish I could read for the first time again, but I need the second book right now. The ending made me gasp and I need to know what happens next! If you like magic, near death experiences, budding romances, and complex characters – this book is one you’ll want to add to your list!

I loved this book and after the epilogue, this is a definite starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me! Be sure to preorder this book before release day and get ready for a wild ride.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

My Top Five Favorite Standalones

I am a sucker for a good series. Whether it’s two books or ten books, if I can get more out of a story and stay in a world I love, I’m happy.

But all too often, I see people suggest series over and over again and I realized we don’t give standalones nearly enough love! So, I’m going to change that. Here are my top five, favorite standalone novels you can pick up and read RIGHT NOW!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

40367270 First off, if you haven’t read Astrid Scholte’s books, you should. She is an amazing writer! I read Four Dead Queens when it was first released as an exclusive ARC from Penguin Teen at BookCon 2018. And let me tell you – *chef’s kiss* – perfection. We have a great YA fantasy/science fiction novel here filled with murder, mayhem, and romance?

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

46222824 You didn’t think I would list Four Dead Queens and not The Vanishing Deep did you? Astrid has a knack for writing amazing standalone novels that you want to be turned into series. I’m still crying over both of these books! This is a great science fiction/fantasy novel about sisterly love and the real difficulties over losing a loved one.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

36443368. sy475  This is a Goose Girl retelling, and I recently posted by review about this book. If you read it, you would know that I adore this story! It’s fantastical, enticing, and it has lots of magic. The main character doesn’t want to be a princess and is genuinely excited when her life is switched with one of her traveling lady’s by a sorceress so that she can live a simple life as a Goose Girl. Except that same sorceress wants to kill her betrothed, the Prince. It’s filled with beautiful moments and it brings to light some serious issues.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

45872054. sy475  If you read my review of this book, you would know I am a musician. I played lots of Mozart and getting to read more about his sister (I didn’t even know he had a sister) was fun. So often we get Wolfgang’s life story and his views, while no one talks about his sister who was just as creative and talented. Not fair. This is mixed with the magic of a secret kingdom and a lost prince, Hyacinth, who wants to bring magic back to his kingdom. It’s definitely not a high fantasy as it switches between historical fiction and urban? fantasy – not 100% sure how to classify this, but it’s not high fantasy. So if you like magical realism and historical fiction, welcome to your next favorite book!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

As Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

43263520. sy475 This book destroyed me. I was not expecting to be so deeply affected by this story, but I was. This is a dystopian novel centered around the idea that girls are magical. Women are born with magic and as they go into puberty, the magic becomes stronger. Every year, at 16, the girls are sent off into the wilderness to burn all the magic in their bodies and it is heartbreaking. We cover misogyny, assault, bullying, and so many topics that affect everyone. I cried at the end for many reasons. This is a more serious book, so these topics are not to be taken lightly – but I think everyone should read this. It’s deep.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

I have so many more suggestions, so if you like this post, please be sure to like it and leave me a comment! If this does well, I might do another post with a variety of genres.

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Divine Blood

I received a copy of Divine Blood by Beck Michaels in exchange for an honest review. This book releases today, so be sure to purchase a copy from Amazon, or wherever you get your books from 🙂

My friend Alexa, whom I’m sure you all know by know over at Writing the Universe, read and loved this book! She told me everything she loved and how she couldn’t wait for me to read it! Unfortunately, I wasn’t as much of a fan as she was.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Shadow demon nearly took everything from Dyna, and it would soon return for more. When she discovers a way to fight back, she must go on a perilous journey and risk it all for those she holds dear.

Along the way, she meets Cassiel, a Celestial Prince with magic blood and wings as black as his heart. He wants nothing to do with Dyna until he learns she could lead him to a place he has been searching for all his life.

But reaching their destination is not as easy as they thought, nor are they the only ones who search for it. With danger at every turn and harrowing secrets between them, the quest will require much more than determination. They must fight for what they desire—or die trying.

For fans of Throne of Glass and Lord of the Rings comes a new debut series with remarkable characters, a budding romance, and gripping action. Divine Blood is the first book of an enchanting dark fantasy that explores the depths of loss, acceptance and the true meaning of courage.

The prologue/first chapter sucked me into this book. I was ready and excited for an incredible journey to save her village! But as we creep further into the book, the pace drops and I felt like it was dragging. I wanted a steady build up into pure action, but as we moved along, I didn’t feel a steady progression.

I don’t mind slow build ups, as long as there is something to fill that void, like side journeys and character build up. We get a lot of side journey’s as our characters work to get what they need, but it was the character moments that I struggled a bit to get through.

I think my biggest issues were the characters, overall. Their personalities seemed to change between POV. Dyna, for starters, comes across as a sure, confident girl who is ready to protect and defend her home. But then in Zev’s eyes she’s a weak toddler who can’t even walk by herself without getting into trouble. And then Cassiels’ POV, she’s clumsy, baby-ish, and yet enchanting.

It’s like I’m reading about three different people. Now, I’ll admit, the way a person perceives themselves is different from how others see them, so I get that difference. But even between the two men, it’s two different people.

I think that disconnect made it more difficult for me to enjoy the story. I found myself liking the action scenes and the plot, but the slower moments between characters was a bit harder to get through. But I stuck it out, and I thought the remaining 40% of the book was amazing! It was action filled, the plot progressed, and it set us up for the rest of their journey. We even meet new characters who add another dimension to the characters and their stories, which I really liked. I couldn’t put it down as our heroes, and our villains, worked towards their goals.

For the most part, I really liked the book. I thought the plot was interesting and new. We had a clear goal for each character on what they wanted and what they were willing to do. I genuinely got excited at the end of the book wanting to know what is coming next. And I think I’m definitely going to buy and read book 2 when it releases in December.

Overall, I would have to give this book a starstarstar // 5 stars. I think that’s a neutral enough rating. There were some things I didn’t like in the story and other things I loved, so this feels like a natural resting place for my thoughts.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

ARC Review: Blood & Honey (100th Post!!!)

I received an electronic manuscript of Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin and I am so happy, and lucky, that I did. Blood & Honey is the second book in a series, the first being Serpent & Dove. If you have not read the first book yet, feel free to check out my spoiler free review! I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, though I do talk about some ideas of the book. No dialogue, plot points, or overall journey is talked about – but I do reflect on my feelings about them. While this review is spoiler free, it may spoil the first book if you have not read it yet.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

Let me preface this review by saying that I am angry. I am so mad at how Shelby has played with my emotions in this book. If you thought Serpent & Dove was emotional, a rollercoaster ride, or any concoction of those types of feelings, Blood & Honey blows them out of the water. I found myself laughing, crying, and screaming so you know this book is going to be good. And it is confirmed that it is no longer a duology, but a trilogy, and I’m conflicted. On one hand, THANK GOD, because I love this series so much. On the other hand, WHY! Because so much happens in book 2 and I just want everyone to be happy.

I loved Serpent & Dove, and after reading Blood & Honey, I can say that this is one of my favorite series. It has become one of my most recommended series and I am so thankful I got to read Blood & Honey early. The book took me on a rollercoaster ride that I was not expecting. Like I actually was yelling and screaming as I read it and evidently threw my kindle I was so upset. I cried actual tears. Shelby has a way of writing things so emotionally and realistically that it pulls my heart strings too well. Her writing makes me feel things the characters are feeling, and those feelings aren’t always good. When they’re high – they’re high. When they’re low – they’re low.

I thought this book was not only more emotional than the first book, but the emotions are also really intense. We see the characters going through some serious changes and those changes effect their friends and loved ones. I’m not kidding when I say I cried multiple times from how emotional this book is. We deal with trauma, grief, mental illness, and so many other aspects of life. Well done Shelby. It is hard to make the reader feel things for starters and a whole other thing to make them feel it as strongly as the characters themselves. It was an experience.

As part of these changing emotions, we also see the change in relationships too. The fluidity of feelings and how they can appear or disappear for people is highlighted and it was refreshing seeing that change. We get a good look at relationships and how they are not easy – they take hard work and commitment. I like the more realistic approach because sometimes YA romanticizes relationship so much, it can become unattainable. Shelby is definitely one of my favorite authors due to her ability to write relationships, and emotions, so well.

It took me so long to read this book, I didn’t want to finish it. And it took me extra long to write this review because I didn’t know how to wrap my thoughts and feeling around it. My first attempt writing this was a jumbled emotional rant that I’m pretty sure would have spoiled anybody reading this – so thank goodness I edited this review when I did.  This book made me laugh, cry, scream, jump for joy – any and all emotions you can think of, I felt them. My poor kindle is probably dented from throwing it too. If you loved Serpent & Dove, you will adore Blood & Honey.

If you expected anything less than a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png // 5 star review, I don’t know where you got that idea. I adored Serpent & Dove – I have raved about it since it’s release last year – and I think Blood & Honey is an amazing sequel, though I do ask myself “why does she want to hurt us so bad?” If you’re ready to be hurt emotionally, Blood & Honey releases on September 1st, 2020!

If you have not already read Serpent & Dove, pick it up. We have witches, witch hunters, enemies to lovers, and all the magical mayhem you can enjoy!

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If this book sounds good to you, make sure to check out Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas or The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (releases on June 2nd, 2020). 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Bone Thief

I received an e-ARC of The Bone Thief by Breeanna Shields from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved The Bone Charmer and I was so excited to read the sequel! I will keep this review spoiler free for book 2, but cannot guarantee it will be spoiler free for the first book, The Bone Charmer. If you have not read The Bone Charmer, feel free to check out my spoiler free review!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Saskia returns to Ivory Hall to train in bone magic, determined to stop Latham from gaining the power of all three Sights—past, present, and future. But danger lurks within the fortress’s marrow. Trials are underway for the apprentices, and the tasks feel specifically engineered to torment Saskia, which is exactly what Latham wants.

As she grows increasingly more suspicious, her thirst for revenge becomes all-consuming. Together with the friends she can trust and the boy she loved in another lifetime, Saskia traces clues from Latham’s past to determine what he’ll do next. Their search leads them across Kastelia and brings them to a workshop housing a vast collection of horrors, including the bones Latham stole from Gran, and the knowledge that the future isn’t all that’s in jeopardy—but the past as well.

So for those that aren’t aware, The Bone Thief releases today! (WOO!) If you have read the read the first book, pick up this book NOW. If you haven’t read The Bone Charmer yet, you should still pick up book 1 and book 2 because I love this duology.

It has taken me a while to write this review because I wanted to get my thoughts in order. I loved the first book and I loved the second book, but there was ONE thing in this book that makes me not want to rate it 5 stars like I did The Bone Charmer.

For those of us that did read The Bone Charmer, we know that Latham is our bad guy, he’s a super bad guy. We don’t know why he’s going after Saskia and the mystery of this is what made me love this series. Obviously we find out why he is doing what he’s doing and let me tell you, I wasn’t impressed with the reasoning. I thought it could have been a stronger motivation. You’ll understand once you read it.

Besides that issue though, everything is great. The ending felt a little too easy in a way, but I’m just here for the drama and the happy endings.

I enjoyed getting to see Saskia learn and grow from Bram a second time, although I just wanted them to just fall in love already! We meet up with some old friends and the story is like watching a movie from your childhood as an adult. There are certain things you remember, things you thought occurred but didn’t, and things that occur you don’t remember at all. It’s kind of a fun mind trick.

Besides my slight disappointment with the ending, I would still rate this book a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars. Honestly, the creativity of this series and the growth we see in all of the characters outweighs my thoughts on the ending.

If you haven’t ordered a copy of The Bone Thief please go do so! It’s a great series and it’s worth the read.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Thorn by Intisar Khanani, a Goose Girl retelling about a princess who’s robbed of her identity and her title by a revenge seeking sorceress. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Bone Charmer

I have had an ARC of The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields sitting on my shelf for over a year. It was only when a friend of mine, Writing the Universe, moderated an event for Breeana Shields and Brigid Kemmerer, and had to read my book, that I realize I was missing out. This book is amazing and I’m honestly so upset it doesn’t have more hype around it! Nobody is talking about it, or at least I haven’t seen anyone talk about it, and it actually makes me upset. So after this review, go order the book and read it because you will love it!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

I find myself not reading the synopsis of books before I pick them up/read them, but I remember reading the synopsis when trading for this, and yet I still forgot it. So when I realized we were getting two alternative timelines for the same person I had to put the book down and scream.

In joy.

I don’t think I’ve read a book that dealt with two different timelines, universes, whatever it may be called. And the way Breeana writes it is so clear and clever. Not only is each story supported by itself, but when put together they are still coherent and easy to distinguish. I have been blessed with an abundance of really good books and I’m so glad I have the ARC of book 2 available, because the ending killed me.

With two different timelines going on at once, I found myself wanting to merge them. Give us the moments in her village with her mother, but be around these people, and have this happen from this timeline, but not that. Of course, that’s not how time works and we end up seeing the two play out until they finally merge into one.

So not only did I really like this book, but I love the growth of the main character. We see how each timelines version deals with their situation and grows differently, but ultimately we leave behind the resentful Saskia as she comes to an understanding with her mother and her power. I love how the relationship between Saskia and her mother changes from the beginning of the story. As Saskia grows, so does her mother, and the relationship that blossoms between them made me so happy.

This book was star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png // 5 star read for me. I loved Breeana’s writing style, the plot, the character development, and the ending. Even if I wanted to scream at the end. Thank goodness for book 2! The Bone Thief comes out on May 26th, so if you have read The Bone Charmer, make sure to preorder or pick up a copy on release day! If you haven’t read The Bone Charmer, read it. You’ll thank me later.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett or The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review & Author Interview: Shielded

I received an eARC of Shielded by KayLynn Flanders from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. And stick around for an interview with the author after my review!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

This is such a badass book with a badass main character. Jenna, our main character, is a Princess who lives her life training, studying, and hiding the fact that she has magic she’s not supposed to posses. Her father sends her off to the neighboring kingdom to be wed to the Crown Heir, Prince Enzo, but tragedy strikes when their caravan is attacked on the way there. The princess, in all her glory, takes us on a wild journey through magical forest, epic battles, and love rollercoasters.

I loved this book! It was a fun ride with action, mystery, and love – all the things you could ask for in a great YA fantasy novel. The beginning was a little slow, which makes sense since we are being introduced to this kingdom and their history, but the plot quickly picks up and takes the reader on a wild ride. I loved how the magic system was explained and how it worked. The rules that could and could not be broken upped the antics and made the stakes much higher for Jenna.

Speaking of Jenna, I love this character. She’s fierce, smart, but so kind. It was nice to see a badass female character also not be a jerk. I think all too often we get the rough girls that can’t be loved and never enough of the tough girls who love just as fiercely. It was so refreshing. We meet a lot of snarky, sassy, lovely characters in this series and the villains are top notch. Their motivation is clear, their path is set, and while they lack a bit of one on one interaction, they are still a serious threat.

This book is great for anyone who loves action, adventure, and tough girls. Jenna is not only a tough cookie, but such a sweetheart and I love her interactions with everyone she meets. She’s the kind of MC you want to be friends with. This was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png.5//5 stars for me.

Now, let’s get into the real serious stuff with the author of Shielded herself – KayLynn Flanders! I was fortunate enough to be able to interview KayLynn about her experience writing Shielded and her life as a writer overall.

1. What inspired you to write Shielded?

Shielded started from a dream. The dream was really different from what the book turned into (there were neon yellow tanks in the dream?), but the emotions for the moment in the dream stayed. I won’t share spoilers, but there were people in danger, and I woke up before they were safe. My heart was pounding so hard at the cliffhanger, and I needed to find a way for them to be okay so I could go back to sleep. So I came up with a solution, but the characters stayed with me. I let that idea grow over a few months, asking questions about who the characters were, why they were in danger, and how they got out of danger, and eventually, it all became Shielded.

2. If you could choose to live in the world of Shielded, would you and where?

Definitely! I’d love to see all of the Plateau, but I’d probably feel most at home in Turia. I love farmland and orchards.

3. Hardest part about writing your book?

Keeping the little subplot pieces tightly weaved throughout every chapter is hard for me—I forget things really fast. But I’m always learning new ways to revise to help me keep track of everything better!

4. Can you tell us about any deleted scenes you wish could have stayed in the book?

Enzo used to have point-of-view chapters. I loved them, but it was the right choice to take them out. If you’re screaming WHY right now, it’s because the story is Jenna’s—Enzo didn’t have the arc that she does. I’m hoping to release some of them after the book comes out, though!

5. Favorite thing about writing/publishing a book?

I love creating the kind of story I want to read. I love seeing my drafts get better and better and closer to the original inspiration (or take a turn for the even better than I’d planned).

6. Any writing advice you can give?

Don’t be afraid to re-write. If something isn’t working, find different ways to see your story and use different mediums (paper and pen, white board, etc.) when brainstorming. Don’t be so locked in to an idea that you get stuck.

7. Any current works or plans for writing in progress?

Yes! I’m working with my editor on a sequel to Shielded, and it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun—high stakes, new lands, two POVs. I’ve also got a retelling I’m working on that I really love (and hope you all get to see someday).

8. If Shielded became a movie/TV show – who would be your dream cast?

So, the ages aren’t quite right on this, and I’ve only got a few I’ve thought about, but I’d go with a younger

Saoirse Ronan (Jennesara)

Ben Barnes (Enzo)

William Moseley (Ren)

But I’m open to suggestions!!

9. What is your favorite book and did it have any affect on your writing? 

I don’t think I can name a single Most Influential Book. Every book I read leaves its mark inside me and helps shape who I am and how I see the world. Growing up, I read several classics with sweeping language that captured emotion, I read sci-fi with mind-blowing twists, and fantasy with epic adventures. I try to bring all my favorite parts about reading into every story I write.

Thank you KayLynn for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’re looking for a great debut novel, check this one out! You won’t regret it.

And be sure to preorder Shielded before it releases on July 21st, 2020! I will provide links to order below and be sure to preorder from your local indie store if possible! 🙂

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

One More Page Books (my local indie)

Book Depository

Indigo Books

Waterstones

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If this book sounds interesting, I would also check out Of Silver and Shadows by Jennifer Gruenke or The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Storm Crow

I signed up for Edelweiss a month ago and was rejected for every single book, except for one: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson. Don’t ask me why I managed to get this book, cause I’m not sure. I haven’t been approved for anything since then either.

I had an ARC of The Storm Crow that I received from Fairyloot in their December 2018 box, but I never got the chance to read it. I even considered trading the ARC since I purchased a finished copy, but I decided to keep it just in case. Let me tell you, I loved this book. Like really loved it.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

My friend read the book when we first received it from Fairyloot and she loved it. She kept telling me to read it, but I was pushing it off for other books. Now that I’ve read it, and it’s sequel, I wish I had read it sooner. I may honestly make a post about books I put off and regret not reading sooner.

We meet Thia in a horrible way – her kingdom has been torched, the crows their society loved and relied on all dead, and her mother was murdered. Her older sister Caliza becomes the new Queen of Rhodaire and Thia is not doing well. One of the things I loved about this book was the representation of depression – what people can feel, what it looks like, and how to help those that are suffering from it. We see Thia unable to even get up from her bed, but her friends come together to help her heal.

The premise and the plot were so easy to get through, I read the entire book in the span of 24 hours. I couldn’t seem to put it down. We get action, adventure, romance, and revenge, well, the build up of revenge more like it. I liked Thia’s character a lot and the way she deals with her struggles, politically, physically, and mentally.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book, like at all. I read it through and found myself on the edge of my seat, excited to see what happens next. Now, it’s book 2 that I had some minor issues with, but book 1 was amazing!

This was a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me.

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If you like this book, check out Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Vanishing Deep

Today I am reviewing The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte. I read her debut novel, Four Dead Queens and absolutely loved it! The ARC I had received was a BookCon exclusive and it almost killed me to get it. Her second book is just as good, asking the question “What would you do if you could have more time after someone has passed?”

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

This is Astrid’s sophomore novel and just as good as her first! I got an advanced copy of 4DQ at BookCon 2018 and it was so good! Getting an ARC of Vanishing Deep was awesome – I love Astrid’s writing and was so excited to read this book.

The hardest part about this book was the beginning. I recently had three deaths in my family this year and the death of a friend. To read Tempe’s struggle of her parents and sister dying hit me really hard and reminded me of the feelings I had experienced and am still going through. As she talks about the revival and getting to see her sister one more time alive, it almost broke me. I wanted to continue but also had to stop for my own sanity.

I’m glad I kept going though. While the beginning is heavy, the action picks up and pushes towards a different message thankfully. As the plot progresses, we get more details about the characters and find out that everything is not as it seems.

I thought the main characters were well set up and had clear motivations and intentions. The only person who I thought was under developed was the director at Palindromena. We get a character shift from her, or at least a bad perspective of her from other characters. She starts off as a nice characters we meet, but then we find out she’s a horrible person, and then we interact with her again and she’s okay to be around? It was confusing for me. I wish there was more development with that or at least a better explanation for why they somewhat ignored warnings about her.

Overall, I had fun with this story, even though it was heart breaking at first. I give this story a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars for the unique plot, sisterly love, and fun adventure. This was a fun read and it showed a realistic look at loss and what people will do to see their loved ones one last time.

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If this story sounds good for you, check out Seafire by Natalie C. Parker for an all girl, seafaring adventure. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Ruthless Gods

Spoiler warning: If you have not read the first book in the series, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, then I cannot guarantee this will be a spoiler free review. If you have read Wicked Saints, this review will not spoil Ruthless Gods

I am torn. On the one hand, this took me forever to read because I knew this would probably hurt me, so I didn’t want to finish it. The other part of me is mad I put it off and should have just finished sooner. Not sure which side will win the argument, but the fact is I took months to finish this book and the ending almost killed me, so here we are: writing this review in anger and resentment. Enjoy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

So to be clear, I read the ARC of this book. Now that the finished copy is out, even though ARCs are basically final drafts, there are some editorial changes that can occur, meaning some things may be different. For the most part though, we should all be on the same page, though I’m not going to go into detail as this is a spoiler free review.

Let’s start off this review with the obvious: Emily wants to murder her readers. The emotional rollercoaster that was Ruthless Gods not only gave me several heart attacks while reading, but almost slew me at the end. Wicked Saints was a journey of its own because of the new characters we meet and grow to like – and then hate to love. Now we have characters undergoing big changes and it’s hard to watch your favorites change before your eyes.

Then theres also the fact that the previous book ended with attempted and actual murder.

My journey with this book was difficult. I often have a conflict with books I like: one part of me feels starved and needs to read it, the other is terrified of rushing through the book. I want to know what comes next without the aspect of finishing the book. Once the book is finished, there’s no more – until the next one comes out.

I have had a long time to reflect on this review because the emotions were high for me when I finished, but I’m going to be honest. It does suffer from middle book syndrome.

Now before anyone raises their pitch forks and torches, let’s remind ourselves what middle book syndrome is. It is essentially the idea that the middle book is a sort of filler between the events of book 1 and book 3 or books whatever, depending on how many books there are. Since this series is a trilogy, it’s books 1 and book 3. Now, I say this because the entire first half of the book I felt like I was going nowhere.

Nothing really happened. Why? Because we had to recoup from the ending of book 1, set up the driving force for book 2, and make sure that the momentum takes us into book 3. Middle book syndrome is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a good thing, but it does mean that the book can lag. And Ruthless Gods lagged in the beginning.

But once the action started – OH MY GOSH. The last two hundred pages grabbed the collar of my shirt and dragged me along, whether I wanted to go or not.

So besides the apparent middle book syndrome, and character changes, what else is there. Well, nothing bad. I loved the driving force in this book and the chain of events that seemed inevitable, but really weren’t. One thing I did have to pick a fight on is Nadya. Sweet, stupid Nadya. Her actions and her decision making irritated the shit out of me. I wanted to smack her upside the head and scream at her. Now, I get the motivation behind it, but come on! So many bad choices were made and now I’m left to suffer because of it?

Why are you making me suffer?!

To wrap up my convoluted thoughts I really liked this book. Now don’t act all surprised because of what I said earlier. I was mad. Even with the lag at the beginning, once the plot gets going, you won’t be disappointed. I threw the book and was SCREAMING at the end, so that should tell you the mindset I am coming from as I write this. Just like with Wicked Saints, this book is a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png // 5 stars for me. If you haven’t read Wicked Saints yet, get on it. It’s a fantastic series!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Cruel Prince by Holly Black, or Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend

I received an eARC of Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

FIRST OFF. This review would have been MUCH higher if not for two things. 1) Half of the book is filler. I am not joking. Half of it is filler. There was so many unnecessary scenes that just slowed down the flow of the book it was driving me mad. I stayed at 30% for almost two months because the second the “plot” started and the main character arrived in town, it felt like LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENED FOR 100 PAGES.

2) THIS BOOK IS SO CONFUSING. I don’t mean, “oh wow, this is really complex and might be hard to grasp”. No, I mean like it was not explained well and the twists and turns don’t make sense at all and you’re just sitting there going “huh”??? Now, maybe I’m dumb, a definite possibility. But after talking to my friend who also finished the book and revealing that they don’t know what happened either, I’m gonna go with bad writing on this one.

Was the plot super cool and interesting? Hell yeah! Were the characters complex and engaging? Absolutely! Did that cover up the bad writing? No. And it’s unfortunate because the writing itself is beautiful. She went for a mystical, mysterious feel and she succeeded, but her ability to explain concepts and plot points clearly was lacking. It was so hard to get through at points due to the writing and not understand what she was trying to say/show. It made me want to skim so I could get to dialogue or clearer lines to clarify what was going on. Even with the temptation, I stuck it through and read the book and just didn’t like it. And trust me, I really wanted to like it!

In the end, I could really only give this book star.pngstar.png//5 stars. Again, not because I hated the book (I really didn’t hate the book) but because there was a lot going on that left me bored, confused, and unsatisfied. It made me dislike reading it and made it difficult to get through.

Now, granted, I read the ARC, so the finished copy may have fixed a lot of these issues and might be clearer. And you should definitely give this book a try because I loved the concept, just not the execution.

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If you’re looking for a dark, mystical fantasy, check out Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Raven and the Dove

***If you haven’t seen, I am currently co-hosting a giveaway with my friend Alexa who runs Writing the Universe. We are giving away four bags full of books, ARCs, and swag from ApollyCon and our personal collection as well as two prizes for our international people! Here is the link to enter. Please be sure to enter through the Rafflecopter link in order for your entries to count! Okay, now back to the review 🙂

I received an eARC of The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So I requested this book on NetGalley solely because of the cover. Don’t ask me why I was judging this book on its cover, but I was. After requesting the title I looked at the tag line and was instantly hooked: Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo! This screamed my name and I am so happy I got a copy because it lived up to its tag!

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Here is they synopsis from Goodreads:

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

When I started reading this book, I thought to myself “Wow! This is a great read, it’s so fun, I’m very interested. What happens next?” As I continued to read I found myself unable to put the book down. I would read pages upon pages of the story before I could convince myself to stop because the story is that engaging. We have free-spirited Lyana or Ana who’s big heart and big sense of adventure makes you want to follow her and her journey. Cassi, who’s air of mystery keeps you guessing from one page to the next. Xander, who is so sweet and loving that you just want to give him the biggest hug and shield his eyes to any wrong doings. And finally, Rafe, who is so tortured that you can’t help but want to make it all better.

These 4 POVs each bring a different personality and view point into the mix and it makes the story so good. I can’t imagine reading it from just one of their POVs for the entire story. Each view point brings so much to the plot and the depth of the story it makes it a wild ride!

So yeah, I really liked this book. I thought the characters are awesome, the plot is new and interesting (but also familiar enough to like), and the author’s writing is enjoyable. Did I dislike anything? Honestly, no. I was captivated from the first page and loved every second of the ride. I’ve already preordered the second book so I can read it once it’s released in September.

So for this book I gave it star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars. So you might be asking yourself, Sammy, why didn’t you give this 5 stars then? Well, I don’t know. I thought the book was great and everything about it was awesome but it didn’t bring about that excitement. The exhilaration and heart pounding certainty that I’ve just read something so amazing words cannot explain. Did I find myself glued to my chair the entire time, unable to put the book down? Yes. Did I love it and have nothing to complain about? Yes. Is it a story I can’t stop thinking about and need to dive back into immediately? Well, no. And that might be why it’s not a 5 star read for me. But, I still adored this story and I cannot wait to read book 2! In fact, I’m anxious to find out what happens next.

If you want an adventure filled with big personalities, multiple POVs, and a solid plot – well, what are you waiting for? Go read it now!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

ARC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

I received an ARC of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust through a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I was lucky enough to receive a manuscript/early ARC through YallFEST but was so disappointed when it was a black cover. If you haven’t seen the cover art for this book, it is absolutely beautiful (as shown below). On a whim, I entered a Goodreads giveaway for a newer ARC because it had the cover art and with the expectation that I was not going to win. Normally, I don’t – but this time I did. And let me just say, the cover art is more beautiful in person.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

 

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Reading the synopsis was one of the first things that pulled me into this story. I knew I was in for a wild ride after reading that and I was right. We meet Soraya, a poisonous princess locked away in her room for others protection. While she does have access to the secret tunnels in her “castle”, she is aware that were she to run into anybody it could be deadly. The feeling of isolation and loneliness due to being locked away from Soraya really resonated with me. Everyone has felt lonely at times, but true loneliness is a difficult and cyclical feeling for people and it broke my heart when we first encountered our protagonist. I think Melissa writes this out beautifully though and shows the conflict in Soraya’s mind between finding a connection and keeping boundaries while also not only keeping it realistic, but unique to our character.

As we go on our journey, the twists and turns never stop. The way I thought this plot line would go was nowhere near the truth of this story – we go from point A to C to G to Y and my head is spinning (in a good way). I really didn’t expect the book to go the way it did but I think it makes it that much better. The self love Soraya is encouraged to find is an amazing message to anyone reading this and it feels genuine. The reader and Soraya learn some valuable lessons along the way and see the motivation behind every decision and their consequences. This book is not boring to say the least.

Now, there wasn’t much that I disliked, but, there are certain moments I wanted the author to write more into and extend and others I wanted to shrink. I won’t go into details, for obvious reasons, but some scenes I wanted more of! I really enjoyed reading Soraya’s story and I think anyone who loves a fierce heroine who can not only save herself, but learn to love herself in the meantime, is going to love this story.

I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars with no regrets. I loved this book and while I have a strong feeling this is a standalone, I would be so happy to read a sequel just to spend more time with these characters!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Night Spinner

I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan.

Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior.

Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.

So the beginning of this story was kinda boring. I don’t say it because I’m expecting great action from the start but it wasn’t until about 30-40% of the way through the book that things got really interesting. There were some seriously slow moments in the story that had me going “do I even want to finish this”? Well, I read the whole thing and I really enjoyed it. I thought the plot was good and loved the aspect of the world. Besides the slowness there were some things I wasn’t a fan of – like the main character’s demure. She kept repeating how weak and small she is even though previously she was one of the strongest and most confident warrior. It wasn’t very believable that someone’s personality would change that drastically. Would I believe they would doubt themselves more? Yeah. Would I believe they wouldn’t take as many risks? Yeah. But to go from warrior to a soft noodle didn’t comprehend for me or for the character.

Another thing I wasn’t a fan of was the unanswered plot point. I won’t spoil it, but this point was made over and over again but after every twist, turn, and reveal, this question still was not answered. I hope it will be answered in future books because I’m curious why it was brought up so frequently with no answer or follow up. Besides that, I liked the book. Some characters annoyed me but you don’t get a long with everyone you meet and that’s fine. 

Overall, I liked the book. Once you get past the beginning and the backstory has been explained it picks up a lot. There were still some dull moments which is why this isn’t a higher rating for me, but generally a good book. I would give this a This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.png//5 stars.

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If this story sounds interesting, I would check out Everless by Sara Holland.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Top Five Favorite Characters … of ALL TIME

We all have a book crush. I have several. They could be friend crushes, relationship crushes, or even – holy cow that’s a well developed villain crush. Here are my top 5 FAVORITE characters of ALL TIME!

#1 Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices

First and foremost, you will see a trend between my favorite characters. They’re all sassy little shits and I love them for it. Will for instance is just someone who needs a really big hug. All the crap that he goes through with Tessa and Jem breaks my heart and while I was rooting for Jessa, I ended up loving Till by the end. 

#2 Altair from We Hunt the Flame

This guy. OH MY GOSH this guy cracks me up. The sass level is off the charts with him and it makes every encounter 100% better. Every conversation with Zafira and Nasir is one of pure enjoyment for the reader. And he has a big heart to go along with it, so while the sass might be high, the love is higher.

#3 Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy

So I looked up to Rose growing up. Her take no BS attitude mixed with her love for her friends was something I admired. I wanted to be tough and kick ass while also being a strong and loyal friend. I think I emulate a lot of those qualities in my relationships today and have become 100% a ride or die friend. Also, the relationship between her and Dimitri is FIRE!

#4 Gideon from Gideon the Ninth

So Gideon is an interesting person. Her internal monologue is not only hilarious and entertaining, but so unique. It was like the author just wrote down her own thoughts for every weird situation and boom! There’s Gideon’s inner monologue. Her reactions and relationships to the people are her also make her not only entertaining, but somewhat of a softy. I think there’s a trend going on here?

#5 Reid Diggory from Serpent & Dove

Last, but certainly not least. My witch killing baby – Reid. This man is the definition of a big baby who likes to pretend he’s tough in front of everyone, but is a total softy. And he’s hilarious. While being prude isn’t a bad thing, his reactions to Louise and her wild antics are hilarious. Like, have me rolling on the floor hilarious. And his interactions with her, especially as their relationship develops, makes my heart happy.

Overall, I have a type. I love the tough cookies with big hearts, who are also hilarious. Humor is necessary for my favs. And while I have plenty of other favorite characters, who also sit in a similar trope, these (so far) are my all time favorites. I love them to death and totally have book crushes on them.

Who’s your biggest book crush?

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If you liked this post, please like it, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

My Reaction to Ember #4 Reveal

OH SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED TODAY! If you follow Sabaa Tahir or have read An Ember in the Ashes, then you know the final book is coming out at the end of the year and THE COVER HAD JUST BEEN REVEALED!!

The title we have all been waiting for has finally been revealed. AEITA #4 is officially called:

A Sky Beyond the Storm

YO I AM HYPED!! This book comes out in December 1st, 2020 – which also happens to be my birthday, so I am extra excited!

If anyone needs me I’m going to be rereading the first 3 books in preparation for the final and hopefully my heart won’t be too broken. But with Sanaa’s stories, we all know we’re going to be crushed.

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If you liked this post, please like it, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Treason of Thorns

A friend of mine had an ARC of Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Waymouth that she graciously sent me to be able to read! It releases on September 10th, 2019 so keep a lookout!

I was so excited to read this story and see what happens! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy.

That is, until her father’s treason destroyed everything.

Now she’s been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn’t what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

A house left unchecked will lead to ruin.

But I will not let it ruin me.

This synopsis sounded AMAZING to me! But I noticed problems within the first chapter. I thought the magic system in this story was crazy unique – the house has all the power and its Caretaker wields a key to help hone its power responsibly. I haven’t heard of a system like this before and it was really interesting to read. My problem with it though, was that I didn’t get a true sense of the magic system until more than halfway through the book. This not only made it confusing as to what was happening, but kinda boring. Which was unfortunate, because I thought the premise was really cool! It also made it hard to understand the issues going on with Burleigh and why it was having such a destructive response.

Reading this, I really wanted to see and understand more of the House’s magic system and then be thrown a problem, not the other way around. While I understand Laura wanted a sense of mystery, it didn’t connect with me and made it harder to enjoy the story.

Another thing that irked me was the repetitiveness of the main idea. Caretakers put their houses first, before anybody or themselves. Violet consistently repeats this in her head, out loud, to Wyn, and anybody who will listen. It gets a bit annoying after awhile. I understood the author was trying to make a point, and have Violet learn something by the end, but it was a struggle to read the same line/thought over and over again. It also occurred with several other ideas, such as the house magic, the house dying, saving the house, and other main issues with the book. It was like everything had to be repeated on every page lest the reader forget what is going on. It was so hard to get through, I almost DNFed at one point. Thankfully, more than halfway through the story, it redeems itself and gets crazy good. I absolutely loved the ending!

Besides those issues, I really enjoyed the story and thought it was a fun read. I did want to see more of the “side characters” we meet, because they brought a lot of personality to the story. It was a shame they weren’t included more. Especially since Violet felt a bit flat in some parts (might be the result of the repetition but who knows).

Overall, interesting new read that I haven’t seen before and think everyone should give a try once it has been published in September! I’m excited to reread and see what changes have been made.

I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because the ending really did redeem the book and the other characters were so fun to read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Wilder Girls

I managed to snag an ARC of Wilder Girls by Rory Power at NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March and I was so excited to read it! One of the biggest things that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous cover (can we just drool over this together?)! I hadn’t heard much about the plot but I was ready to jump in and read what was going to happen.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

One of the things I really liked about this was the storyline – an apocalyptic sickness taking over the school and the entire island it resides on. Turning the girls into deformed monsters and killing everything in its path. I’ve read and seen apocalyptic illness stories before, but never like this. Usually they take on a zombie standard, but most of the girls remain the same and keep their sanity – for the most part. It was interesting to see how they changed overtime because of this illness and to read about their new normal.

The new social survival standard was interesting too. Loyalty was still present even in the dog eats dog world as the girls fought each other over everything. Even between friends, Hetty still has to fight to survive as she continues to look out for the people she cares for.

One thing I wasn’t a fan of was Hetty and Reese’s relationship. They weren’t friends but they were more than strangers and it was hard to accept that they were loyal or cared for each other. Hetty was much closer with Byatt and clearly cared for her deeply – so to make it seem like Hetty and Reese had an intense relationship felt false. While it’s clear their relationship changes, there are some aspects to it that don’t feel right or could have been developed more.

Another thing that was somewhat explained but I didn’t fully understand was the sickness itself. There’s some explanation of symptoms and what happening to them, but it doesn’t explain why some people survive while others don’t. Or what is actually happening to them. It kinda hinders the story for me as we continue to see the effects of this illness on everything. I think this will impact book 2 in two ways: 1) We’ll get more explanation of what’s happening or 2) We won’t and we’ll still be confused. Or at least I will be.

I think the story is an interesting take on something that has been done before. Strange illness kills the population and changes the landscape. Survivors have to figure out how to live in new world and continue to survive. It’s a plot that has been done before but Power does something different with it, which I liked. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t super impressed with the storyline and honestly, Reese and Hetty’s characters annoyed me. I would have loved to have read the entire story through Byatt’s perspective though!

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t a winner for me. The synopsis is a little misleading because it makes it seem like a grand adventure but most of the story takes place at the school. While there is a lot of action, it’s not as action packed as I hoped. I am definitely interested in reading what happens next though! Definitely a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.75/5 stars for me.

We Hunt the Flame

I won an advance copy of We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal from Goodreads and I am so thankful. This book is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it ABSOLUTELY lived up to the hype. I knew I was going to like this book, but I did not expect the roller coaster ride of emotions that Hafsah included in order to KILL ME. I am deceased from this story. This book releases on May 14th, 2019 – so make sure to preorder now!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

So first and foremost – the setting is magical and gorgeous. Literally. The world has been abandoned by magic and as a result, leaves the Earth desolate and in distress. Where there was once a sprawling desert is now snow. Rich, fertile soil now barren. A seaport city is cut off from the ocean by a dark forest. The images Hafsah evokes just from the land is so amazing and intense I felt like I was there. I also felt the suffering that the people living there felt; the struggle of this relatively new land they have to navigate. Hafsah’s prose pulls you into the story and places you down with the characters and that means suffering with them too.

Onto her writing – it was so lyrical and amazing I’m stunned. I’ve always been a fan of lyrically descriptive prose. I want to see what the characters see because it helps me envision the story better and Hafsah does it in such a beautiful way; some scenes almost made me cry with how beautiful or intense they were. Because of this writing technique though, the beginning can seem a bit slow. Not to say that nothing happens, because a lot happens in the beginning with setting the characters up, but it can feel sluggish compared to the rest of the book. Honestly though, I didn’t mind it. I enjoyed getting to see and know everything that was happening in a descriptive way – it makes the world more real to me.

For her characters, there’s a lot I could say. 1) Love the distinct personalities that each character has. While there is a little overlap between two characters, each person is an individual – which doesn’t always happen. Even with multiple “main” characters (the important characters that are not the protagonists), everyone has a distinct voice and brings something to the story that nobody else could. 2) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE NASIR AND I JUST WANT TO CUDDLE MY CINNAMON ROLL. Okay – yes, Nasir is one of my favorite characters for one BIG reason: his evolution. The way he changes and morphs throughout the story is honestly the biggest reason I adore his character. I love the person he becomes by the end of the novel. I find myself loving the male characters more than the female characters too, including Zafira for some reason though.

The only issue I had with the story though – was Zafira’s repetitiveness. I found that this happened only with Zafira’s main POV and was a common thing about her thought process. She would think the same thing a lot: same phrases, analogies, sayings. It’s not horribly noticeable, but it was something I noticed and it irked me a little by the end. Thankfully, it wasn’t something that ruined the character for me because I still adore Zafira, even with her flaws. Actually, for her flaws. I find myself having trouble really thinking of things I disliked about the characters because so much of these dislikes are the quirks in their personality. It’s what makes them unique and I can’t hate that. I don’t hate it.

Finally, the plot. Loved it. I can’t think of anything wrong with the events that happened other than sometimes things would happen and not be explained very well. Or a character would conveniently black out so it’s hard to say exactly the events that occurred. While this wasn’t a common thing, it happened twice which is something I immediately noticed. I don’t mind plot points like that, but I hope to see a different or revised version of events in the final draft. I want to know how a problem is solved!

Overall, I ADORED this book, the characters, the plot, everything about this novel. I am stunned at how amazing it was for Hafsah’s debut and I cannot wait to read the second book. I would give this book a definite star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! No questions asked!

Thank you again to Goodreads for picking me as one of the winner’s for this giveaway! Even if it was just a random name generator.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (out July 9th, 2019!)

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Kingsbane

I just finished Kingsbane by Claire Legrand and all I can say is WOW. Finishing the book left me hollow and broken – I’m not sure how I’m going to wait until next year for the final book. If you haven’t read Furyborn – the first book in the series – check out my review and pick it up! This review will still be spoiler free, but just in case, if you haven’t read it, check this out when you have!

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Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

I read Furyborn back in February (technically finished it in March) of this year and I was hooked. Picking up from where we left off, Kingsbane hit me in the feels immediately. As we continue on Eliana’s journey, and Rielle’s history, I find myself understanding the struggle Rielle experiences in maintaining her appearance. It was hard to see her character consistently berated and tested by those around her while she keeps up her image and resists the temptation to smack them all down. I feel you girl. Meanwhile, with Eliana struggling to accept her truth, while helping the Red Guard, it’s clear she’s going through a similar struggle as Rielle.

The similarities between mother and daughter continue throughout the story up until the end. Which, by the way, destroyed me. To find out more of Rielle’s story, and Eliana’s journey, not only made their characters feel more realistic, but allowed the storylines of the characters around them to come to life more. In the first book, while I loved several of the side characters, they didn’t feel fully fleshed out until the second book. And while it’s hard to see the events leading up to Eliana’s world unfolding, it gives the perfect edge to the story and and still leaves questions to be answered.

Warning: if you hate crying and horrible middle book endings – you will not want to read this ASAP. Buy the book ASAP (because it’s gorgeous), but maybe wait until book 3 is closer to release. Trust me. I was not prepared. Overall, I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. 1) I’m biased and ADORE this series and 2) this is a well written story with so many emotions, lessons, twists, and turns, it’s hard not to give it all of the stars! I think everyone should at least try these books (not everyone will love this series and that’s okay!) because I think they’re fantastic – if not crazy!

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If you like Kingsbane, you’ll love Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers OR Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Best Travel Books

Vacations are a great time to sit down and actually finish those books that have been sitting on the shelf for months. One of the hardest things though, is finding books that are good vacation books. Not too cry worthy or emotionally scaring – something fun, relaxing, and maybe even thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite vacation reads so far! Let me know in the comments below some of your all time favorite vacation reads!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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This YA Science Fiction/Romance novel is one that fulfills your swoon worthy, lovey vibes and also reminds you of life. The first book takes you on America’s journey through the process of being primped and picked for being a future Queen – even though she’s definitely not interested. This easy YA read is perfect for anyone 12+ and is something that most would glide through easily without utter destruction.

Everless by Sara Holland

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This heart racing, blood pounding YA Fantasy read is something I read on the beach last year and absolutely adored. The fast paced story kept me going, which made it very easy for me to read the entire book in one day. With all the time available on vacation – for the most part – this book is a great, gripping read with a few moments of shock or concern for the characters. Thankfully, this book isn’t heart ripping and makes for a great, quick, all day read while sitting in the sun or in your hotel room.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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This book is an amazingly funny, fantastical take on the classic story of Lady Jane Grey, the queen of England for 9 days! This historically “accurate” story of her rise and fall to power with the added humor of the time, makes this a great YA historical fiction/fantasy vacation read! I devoured this in one day and its lightheartedness made it easy to digest, leaving me happy and entertained!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 

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Looking for an action packed YA Fantasy about pirates and sirens that won’t leave you a puddle on the floor? This book isn’t entirely lighthearted, but Tricia’s story telling leaves you on the edge of your seat entertained, without being scarred. It’s an easy book to sit back, relax, and enjoy the events going on while on the beach – you might even see a siren in the distance!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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This YA Contemporary Romance is a light, delicate, and emotionally rewarding read that you can enjoy and then watch the movie on Netflix once you’re done! Lara Jean’s unfortunate love reveal to the five boys she loved before leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. Especially during scenes between her and her family. This is perfect for a relaxing vacation where you can sit back, enjoy the loving family vibes, laugh, and finish a wonderful read! It’s hard to not love this book and all of Lara’s quirky friends and family.

While there are so many different genres and tastes when it comes to vacation reads, these relatively easy reads allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. That brief moment of escape during my escape was sweet and occasionally enlightening. I enjoyed every story in their own ways and it allowed me to escape from my vacation for just a moment. I’m always on the hunt for some great vacation reads, so drop some suggestions below!

 

Smoke and Key

I received an eARC of Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While I was a little late, I reviewed it in time for opening week, yay!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…

The first moment I picked up the book, I knew I would love it, but it was not the right time for me to read this. This short, creepy, fantastical mystery sucked me right in, but after finding out that a close friend died, it hit a little too close to home. To read about how Key died, and everyone around her, made me a little uncomfortable after dealing with a death myself, but it got easier as I read on.

This story is not just a mystery, but a good conversation on death and what happens after we die. Uncomfortable, I know, but an important conversation nonetheless. One thing I loved about this book was the simplicity of Under. When I read books regarding the afterlife, it tends to be a smokey city or unclear that the person is dead. In this story, Sutton makes it clear that they are in the ground and their city is meant for the dead.

Another thing I loved was how the mystery was slowly uncovered and solved. Death mysteries are fun with detectives, but to realize what is going on through flashbacks or memories is a “fun” approach. It was a nice break away from the typical detective mysterious I’m used to.

While it wasn’t the best time for me to read this story, I loved it. I read it that day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would give this book a star.png star.pngstar.png /5 stars. It would probably be higher if not for the circumstances, honestly.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Devouring Grey

I received an e-ARC of The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I ended up receiving a physical ARC too, which is how I read the book and what this review will be based off of!

Let’s get started!

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Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The first thing that struck me about this book was the take on the stereotypical new kid in town. Violet is not some shy, awkward new kid moving to a small, close knit town. She’s a firecracker who is grieving and desperate to escape the loss of her sister. She comes to this new town and doesn’t back away from the people, but quickly embraces them and remains herself through it – which is not something that is usually done in these tropes, but I appreciated.

The second thing was the openness of the magic in the town. Everyone in Four Paths is aware of the Grey and the monster lurking inside. There is no secret that must be kept by the kids and their families regarding what they’re protecting the town from, which I thought was awesome. It also made it almost better that the “heroes” were not hiding the monster, but embracing it and making everyone aware. It also really helped the plot of the book later on and I thought it was very well done.

Third, the characters. I had a few issues at first with Harper and Justin’s character (mostly because I found them annoying) at the beginning, but began to love them as the story progressed – especially by the ending! I thought all of the characters were realistic, and even the secondary/side characters were fleshed out. The fact that she also includes bisexual main characters made this story less … vanilla. While the characters love lives are not very important to the overall story, including LGBTQ+ characters is important and realistic. And the fact that she doesn’t exploit a characters sexuality for plot/emotional gains shows why there should be more Own Voices stories. Herman does a great job giving her characters personality, and while sometimes they have annoying attributes, everything is cleared up by the end and I adore them!

Finally, the plot itself. The only thing I can say about it is – WOW! When I originally finished the book I was staring at it, my mouth dropped open, and angry that book 2 isn’t in my hands currently so I can devour it. The storyline of The Devouring Grey is not fully original (monsters, must protect town, kids save the day), but Herman’s spin on this concept surely is. The way she incorporates magic, witches, monsters, and real people made it so easy to get sucked into the story. I found myself not being able to put it down.

Overall, I adored this book. I thought it was well written, dark, funny, engaging and so many other words I could use to describe it. I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Furyborn

With the impending arrival of Kingsbane, I thought now was the best time to read Furyborn by Claire Legrand. I’m so glad I did!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

First and foremost, one of the things I loved the most about this book, and Legrand’s writing, is her ability to transcend centuries like it’s easy. Switching from Rielle’s POV to Eliana’s POV is seamless, not only from millennium to millennium, but from their previous chapters. The fact that Rielle’s chapter would end and Eliana’s would begin with no confusion was honestly amazing. I’m sure if I took out just Rielle’s POV and put them together, it would make its own cohesive story, same with Eliana’s. And that’s brilliant in my opinion.

Second, the character relationships are honestly goals. The interactions between Simon and Eliana were fantastic and every moment of banter between them made me love their friendship more. The way Legrand changes the relationships over time makes it not only seem realistic, but brings up a few issues that I’m sure most of us have gone through. Especially regarding trust.

Third, the imagery in this story was captivatingly beautiful. Ever turn of the page kept me enthralled and I had to read this book slowly to savor every description Legrand makes about the two worlds. Even in the most action packed scenes, she takes the time to thoroughly describe what is going on to and around each character, which is not something that always happens in books. It should also be praise that I took so long reading this book because it means I never want the story to end! And I don’t. When is Kingsbane out again?

To wrap things up, I loved almost every aspect about this book and I’m sad that I can’t experience for the first time again, or read its upcoming sequel yet. Overall I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. It was honestly that good!

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, the sequel to Furyborn, comes out on May 21, 2019!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, or you’re looking for something similar, I would recommend Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers for a more medieval/historical fiction side of Furyborn and Seafire by Natalie C. Parker for the strong female lead with awesome magic side!

The Waking Forest

I received an eARC of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review: and here it is! This book comes out on March 12, 2019 and will be available for purchase on all platforms. So, lets get started!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and thankfully, it did not disappoint! The first thing I noticed about this book was the distinct writing style; it’s mysterious and enchanting and gives an almost Hazel Wood vibe, but better in my opinion. Next thing I noticed was the overall plot.

This book gave me a chilling, creepy vibe in the beginning with no explanation and I loved it. It was like a slow start to a horror movie – where you see creepy things are happening but you’re not sure why and you don’t quite know what is going to happen next. That was my initial reaction. As the book goes on more, the creepy vibe always remains but it changes and forms into something more than just suspense or horror – it turns into true fantasy.

One of the other things I noticed and liked in this book was the characters – sometimes, especially in YA, characters all come across the same or there is a distinct them vs us kind of divide – but not here. Wees makes sure to make each character their own individual throughout the story and makes sure to keep them consistent. I also loved the quirkiness of the sisters and how each of them has a quirk or thing to them that separates them from each other. It makes distinguishing between the four of them easier throughout the story.

Another thing I liked about this book was the set up – the switch between Rhea’s POV and the Witch’s POV was done very well and each switch back and forth helped build Rhea’s story more, instead of hindering it. The way that Wees also formats the book helps distinguish the Witch from Rhea, making sure to make an obvious switch in her own writing style that the POVs are different so that there is no confusion as she goes back and forth.

Lastly, I loved the imagery of this story. It was written so beautifully that I could clearly visualize everything on the page before me. Even when the book became intense, I could still see what she wanted me to see and feel like I’m right there with the characters.

My only issue with this book was the ending. And not because of what happens, but the way it was written. The entire first three quarters of the book includes some plot, but its a lot of descriptions, dialogue, and other things included rather than just action. At the end of this book, the shift to more action made it feel choppy and hard to follow. Going from the almost lyrical story to an action filled ending was shocking and hard to transition into. Besides that, I really liked this story and I’m excited to read more from this author!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think its perfect for anyone looking for a short, quick, creepy YA fantasy read. And with that – I would rate this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book interests you, I would suggest checking out The Cruel Prince by Holly Black or A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer!

Spectacle

I received an advance copy of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok from NetGalley and I loved it. This book is currently published and available on all platforms, so if you like this review, feel free to purchase a copy for yourself or pick it up at your local library!

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To start off, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

As a historical fiction buff – I loved this story! The slight fantasy of it also made it that much more entertaining for me, especially since it added a lot to the story. Even though I wished it had a more prominent role, the biggest part of the story I loved was the historical fiction aspect of it, especially since it was 1880’s Paris – post Napoleon era.

The characters in this book, since most are women, seemed restrained, which makes sense for the times. While there were times I wished I saw more of a “screw the patriarchy” type of attitude from the characters, I can’t blame them for their reservations and their fears. It does show itself at times, but I had hoped for more moments of it.

Honestly, I loved this story so much, I couldn’t put it down at times. Since NetGalley gives out e-ARCs, I had to read this story on my kindle, which is something I don’t do often, so the fact that I couldn’t put the book down is saying something. As a person who has trouble reading on a kindle at times, the fact that I was obsessively reading this book means it’s good!

One of the problems I had with this book was the ending. It felt like it came out of nowhere and I was not prepared for the reveal when it happened. Usually with murder mysteries, there are some clues given to the reader so that they can start to guess who the killer is, but with this book I felt blindsided. I wish there had been a little more of a hint as to who it was and why they were doing it before the sudden reveal. On the other hand, it was also nice to be completely surprised at the fact that I didn’t guess the killer immediately. So if you like knowing who did it, this book is not for you! Get ready to be surprised.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was not only a suspenseful, enticing read but historically accurate, which is always lovely to read. As a historical fiction/fantasy buff – this book itched all my scratches and left me wanting more. I’m so excited to see what Zdrok comes out with next!

To wrap this up, I loved this story and I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction as Zdrok does an amazing job incorporating history and fiction seamlessly.

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If you like historical fiction murder mysteries, I would recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers!

Truthwitch

I recently started reading the Witchland series by Susan Dennard in the month of February in anticipation of Bloodwitch, which releases today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

 

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In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I have heard some mixed reviews about Truthwitch, but from the negative reviews I heard, it didn’t sound like a book that would interest me much. Until I read it. This series is a high fantasy, soul crushing, mystical journey filled with snarky characters, a few crushes, and awesome magic. If you have heard about this book, but haven’t given it a chance yet, I would rethink your decision. I loved this book so much!

After reading Truthwitch I immediately had to start Windwitch, which was just as good! The book features several points of view, including Safiya, Iseult, Aeduan, Merik, and a few others. These main characters all have different witch abilities, such as the power of wind, blood, or truth detection and Dennard incorporates each POV and power effortlessly.

One of the things I liked the most about this book wasn’t that the world was so complex, it was that Dennard made it seem natural. There are a lot of rulers, powers, cultures, and languages in this book that you have to keep track of, but Dennard makes it easy on the reader, giving us a vast and intricate world that I loved. I also loved the distinct personalities that each person has – just like real people, everyone is individual. There are no personality repeats.

There wasn’t much I disliked about the book personally; I found it captivating and exciting, which had me hooked for the entire read.

Although I will say the transition between Truthwitch and Windwitch seemed off – like I missed a chapter or two in between and some things were not adding up. That could be my misinterpretation of the text, but I noticed it enough to think, “Did I miss something here?”. Besides that, both books were fantastic and I am so excited to read Sightwitch and Bloodwitch!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this world and I gave Truthwitch a rating of star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars and Windwitch star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting to you or if you like fantasy, then we suggest A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab!

 

Four Dead Queens

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is set to debut in February 26, 2019. Miraculously, we both managed to snag an ARC of it at BookCon 2018, even though we almost died trying to get it. Thankfully, the book was really good and made it worth the near death experience.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.

OKAY! This book was so good. We both adored this story and every twist and turn that threw us against the wall, even if it almost killed us. (This book did not want us to live!) One of our favorite things about this book was the realm that Keralie lives in. A nation divided into four distinct and different sectors is not only cool, but sounds exciting enough that we want to live there! We love the idea that each kingdom has it’s own specific job to do and they never overlap, which would honestly make anyone’s life easier if they knew that they could do this one thing and that’s it. Every sector has a purpose and a job, and that made it much easier to distinguish the personalities of the different characters, based on where they live.

Another thing we loved about this book are the characters because each has a distinct personality and voice throughout the novel and it was not only refreshing, but intriguing. We were left wondering what is happening and wanting to sneak back inside their head to find out more. The more we heard from each character, the more committed we were to each character, their story, and their wants/needs. It was so hard to leave the world because we simply wanted to live there and hang out with some of the characters. Maybe talk a little. Make some new friends. These characters were so realistic and fleshed out, it was hard to not become attached to them.

We also loved the detailed descriptions of Keralie’s surroundings and events going on. Astrid does not leave you confused and wondering what is going on in a scene- at least not in the details. This murder mystery sprinkles just enough clues for you to think you know what’s going on, but do you?

The only thing we had an issue with was one character specifically. This character, whom shall remain anonymous, seemed a bit flat. The flatness comes not from their backstory, which is full and colorful, but their actions and speech. While this character has motivations to be evil, they still come across as two dimensional in all of their decisions and speech. Which is completely unfortunate, because they could be a rounded, exciting, and manipulative character (our favorite!) that brings another level to this already fast paced murder mystery. Now this issue hopefully was fleshed out through edits, so we are interested to see what happens in the final copy, but that was one of the issues we noticed in the ARC.

Overall, we absolutely loved this book! It is an amazing debut novel and we are so thankful we were able to receive an advanced copy from BookCon to review. We can’t wait until February for the final draft! Which brings our rating to star.png star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png stars!

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If this book sounds good to you or if you like murder mysteries, then we suggest The Diviners by Libba Bray!